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KNOWN BUT NOT SHOWN:

These Wild Plants are on Cayman Brac too!

Tephrosia cenerea
Tephrosia cenerea (exists in at least 3 marsh locations on Cayman Brac)

Botanists have catalogued most of the wild plants in this country. The definitive works are Dr. George Proctor’s Flora of the Cayman Islands, second edition, and F.J. Burton’s Threatened Plants of the Cayman Islands: The Red List. For the complete citation of both books you may check the “field guides” section of this present nature blog, www.naturenotes19n79w.ky

But a book is no sooner published than it is out of date. It’s not a complaint, it’s a “thank you” because the books make it easier for amateur and professional plant sleuths to develop their knowledge. In the process they may find gaps or errors.

One such gap is the listings for Cayman Brac. Many plants that live here in the wild are credited in the references for Grand Cayman, Little Cayman or both but not for Cayman Brac. These plants have been here all along but have been missed. And no wonder — this island has few resident scientists, is difficult for scientists to get to and expensive for them to stay.

The present article is an attempt to catalogue these “missings”. Several have already been reported, collected for the National Herbarium, and noted for future editions. But all the ones we know will be published here and now. More will be found as we explore.

We have omitted some decorative plants that may have been brought by people, unless they have become completely naturalized.

Herewith, the incomplete list of plants that are “Known But Not Shown” – native plants that are known to exist in the wild on Cayman Brac, are credited to other Cayman Islands in the reference books but are not credited to Cayman Brac in the Flora of the Cayman Islands, Second Edition, Kew, Kew Publishing, 2012. We call the list “Known But Not Shown”.

Please read acknowledgements at the end of the table, enjoy the photographs and take a few steps into our dry, limestone forest, locally called “the bush”. It is delightful.

Below is the list of plants confirmed to exist in the wild on Cayman Brac, but not attributed to the Brac in the standard reference: Flora of the Cayman Islands, by G.R. Proctor, Kew Gardens, Kew, UK, 2012 even though credited to one or both of the other islands.

A separate column shows the status in the second standard refence, namely the table of native plants appended to Threatened Plants of the Cayman Islands, Kew Publishing, Kew 2008, by Frederick J. Burton.

Download complete plant table (with location on Cayman Brac) in pdf format

Listed on Cayman Brac in publications (Proctor; also Burton)?

Scientific name Common name Family Proctor Burton Local Photo?
Acrostichum aureum Polypodiaceae No Yes Yes
Bromelia pinguin Pingwing Bromeliaceae No No Yes
Buxus bahamensis Boxwood Buxaceae No No Yes
Caesalpina wrightiana Yellow nicker Leguminosae No No Yes
Caesalpina intermedia Yellow nicker (caesalpinioideae) No No Yes
Canavalia nitida Horse bean Leguminosae No No N/A
Ceiba pentranda Kapok, Silk cotton tree Malvaceae No Not listed Yes
Celtis trinervia Bastard fustic Ulmaceae No No Yes
Chamaecrista lineat Storm weed Leguminosae No No Yes
Comocladia dentata Maiden plum Anacardiaceae No Yes N/A
Cucumus anguria Wild cucumber Cucurbitaceae No Not listed Yes
Dalbergia ecastaphyllum Coin seed Leguminosae No No Yes
Dodonaea viscosa Varnish leaf Sapindaceae No No Yes
Duranta erecta Forget-me not (Jam.) Verbenaceae No No Yes
Elaeodendron xylocarpum Wild calabash Celastraceae No No Yes
Encyclii kingsii Orchidaceae No No N/A
Evolvulus convolvuloides Convolvulaceae No No Yes
Exostema carbiaeum Bastard ironwood Rubiaceae No Yes N/A
Ipomoea hederifolia Convolvulacaea No Not listed Yes
Jacquinia keyensis Wash-wood Theophrastaceae No yes Yes
Metopium toxiferum Poison tree Anacardiaceae No No Yes
Morinda royoc Yellow root Rubiaceae No No Yes
Oeceoclades maculata Oeceoclades maculata No No Yes
Ocimum micranthum Duppy basil (pimento basil) Labiatae No No N/A
Phyllanthus nutans, nutans Euphorbiaceae No Yes Yes
Polygala propinqua Polygalaceae No Yes N/A
Sapindus saponaria Soap-berry, Black Nicker Sapindaceae No Not listed N/A
Securinega acidoton Green ebony Euphorbiaceae No No N/A
Sideroxylon foetidissimum Mastic Sapotaceae No Yes N/A
Smilax havanensis Wire wiss Smilacaceae No No N/A
Tabernaemontana laurifolia Wild jasmine Apocynaceae No No N/A
Tephrosia cinerea Faboideae No No Yes
Tillandsia paucifolia Bromeliaceae No Yes Yes (i.d. provided by F.J. Burton)
Tillandsia setacea Bromeliaceae No No Yes (from print photo sent to F.J. Burton)
Tillandsia recurvata Bromeliaceae No Yes Yes (but camera lost in the bush and could not be found)
Typha domingensis Cat-tail, rush Typhaceae No No N/A
Vanilla claviculata Vanilla orchid Orchidaceae No No Yes
Zanthoxylum flavum Yellow sanders, Satinwood Rutaceae No Yes Yes
Zephryanthes citrina Yellow crocus Amaryllidaceae No Not listed Yes
Zephyranthes tubispatha Amaryllidaceae No Not listed Yes

Total: 39 species

This list will never be complete. Others native plants not in the book will be identified on Cayman Brac. Also, please note that some decorative plants (Star-of-Bethlehem for example) listed in Dr. Proctor’s Flora have not been included here. (He lists it for Grand Cayman but not for the Brac where planting has made it common.)

Field work has progressed as a team, but often in twos or threes: Doug Ross, Doris Black, Edna Platts, Lynn Ferguson-Sage, Kathleen Bodden-Harris, Patti Sowell and others have contributed, and especially Isabelle Brown

Assistance in plant identification has come from the above plus Stuart Mailer, Fred Burton, Ann Stafford, Paul Watler, Lois Blumenthal, and the great Dr. Proctor in the early days.

Fewer than half these plants have been lodged with the National Herbarium, so an error factor may exist. The author has tried to keep it to zero; he will lead any interested party to the sites.

GPS readings have not been published for the sake of plant security. Ripping plants from the bush has been a problem.

All photos have been taken on Cayman Brac by the author. Both the blog and the article are the property of the author. Written permission is required for significant extracts.

Please note: From boyhood, every bird book or other reference had adjured me to take steps to preserve the natural world of which we are one part. You and I have not done enough.

We are losing it — over-populating and overrunning the natural world shown in these photos. Can we work together to do more ? It’s fun — our dry, limestone forest is astounding.

The author is grateful for the fine assistance rendered in producing and maintaining this blogsite since its inception, and for its benign corporate sponsorship.

J. Wallace Platts
Oct. 5, ’14

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