Montgomery scientists worked with botanists in the Cayman Islands over the past week to survey, document and collect specimens of Zamia integrifolia. As part of the Caribbean Zamia Project, leaflet samples from Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac – over 150 samples – were prepared for DNA analysis.

Patrick Griffith and Michael Calonje are very grateful for the collaboration of John Lawrus from the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Fred Burton from the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, and Wallace Platts (pictured here with Michael) of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, who each participated in fieldwork. With the help of these experts, the project team now has a thorough sample of the genetic diversity in these cycads, which are locally called ‘bullrush.’

The Cayman Islands are biogeographically important, located south of Cuba and west of Jamaica. Many intriguing species are only found in these three remote islands, such as the Silver Thatch Palm, Coccothrinax proctori (pictured). Given this unique flora and geography, the bullrush from these islands is essential to understanding cycad diversity in the region.

The Caribbean Zamia Project is a collaborative effort led by Florida International University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the New York Botanical Garden, and Montgomery, along with collaborators throughout the Caribbean. Fieldwork in the Cayman Islands was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Please see Montgomery’s recent newsletters for further information about the project.