|New plant species recorded for TCI|
|Written by DECR|
|Friday, 02 March 2012 10:30|
A first-time record of a plant species was made for Turks and Caicos Islands on Feb. 18.
The long strap fern Campyloneurum phyllitidis was identified by Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DCER) Caicos Pine Recovery Project Manager B. Naqqi Manco and photographed and filmed by Dr. Mike Pienkowski and Ann Pienkowski of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF).
The plant exists in the Greater Antilles, South Florida and Central and South America, and is classified as rare in the Bahamas. Previously thought to be absent from the TCI, the fern is now known to exist on North Caicos. Two large plants were located south of the Kew settlement in a low, rich area, attached firmly around the lower parts of tree trunks. This is the typical habit of the strap fern, growing as an epiphyte attached to trees or logs.
Upon consultation with residents of the Kew settlement, it was found that the plant is known from a few other locations but is recognised as unusual. The DECR hopes to be able to incorporate the long strap fern into its Native Plant Biodiversity Conservation Nursery in North Caicos, a facility shared between the Overseas Territories Environment Programme-funded Caicos Pine Recovery Project and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee-funded Rescue and Collection of Endangered and Endemic Plants Project.
During a second visit to the site with nursery caretaker, Junel “Flash” Blaise, the Caicos Pine Recovery Project team collected spores of the fern to attempt to grow it in a horticultural setting. Ferns can be difficult to grow in a nursery because their life cycle is quite unlike that of other plants. They require a sterile environment free of mould and bacteria when grown artificially.
The strap fern was a favourite houseplant in Victorian England, but the few known specimens in TCI will be kept safe from collection so that they may be enjoyed by all.
Two other species of ferns, the rabbit’s foot fern Phlebodium Aureum and the resurrection fern Pleopeltis Polypodioides, have been discovered in North Caicos over the last 10 years; both are also new records for TCI. Formerly, all three of these ferns were classified in the genus Polypodium, but have since been reclassified.
For more information about the plants of the TCI, contact the DECR.
Photo: Long strap fern (Campyloneurum phyllitidis)/(B. Naqqi Manco/DECR)
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