Thursday, October 10, 2019

[Botany • 2019] Sabal lougheediana (Arecaceae) • A Critically Endangered, Endemic Palm Species from Bonaire

Sabal lougheediana M.P.Griff. & Coolen

in Griffith, Coolen, Barros & Noblick. 2019. 
Bonaire Palm  ||  DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.420.2.1

A new palm species, Sabal lougheediana, is described and illustrated. This critically endangered island endemic, native solely to Bonaire, is characterized by a compact crown of leaves, erect leaf segments, distinctive leaf scars, and frequently vascularized fiber bundles in leaflet transection. Detail on history, morphology, range, habitat, and conservation status is presented, along with a diagnostic key. 

Key words: anatomy, Coryphoideae, critically endangered, single-island endemic, Palmae, palms, Southern Caribbean

FIGURE 2. Sabal lougheediana, Bonaire, showing uniformly erect leaf segments and infructesence (white arrow) occluded by foliage
(photograph: Coolen).

FIGURE 1. Sabal lougheediana. A. Habit. B. Detail of leaf scar. C. Leaf.
(illustration: Barros)

Sabal lougheediana M.P.Griff. & Coolen, sp. nov. 

Type:—BONAIRE. Lima, limestone terrace pavement west of Lac Bay, north of the solar salt works, and south of Kaya Rudolph Statius von Eps. 5 m elev., ..., 11 January 2017, Griffith 392 (holotype NY!, isotype FTG!). 

Diagnosis:— This new species is most similar to Sabal antillensis in leaf morphology and inflorescence structure, but differs by the much taller overall height (7 m vs. 5 m) and more slender-trunked (less than 40 cm vs. greater than 40 cm) habit, the conspicuous, textured trunk scars, the uniformly erect leaf segments unlike the pendescent segments in S. antillensis, and the more frequently vascularized fiber bundles.

Distribution:— This species is currently limited to a very small range on the island of Bonaire (de Frietas et al. 2019) in the Southern Caribbean. The plants are found in the southern part of the island (Lima), west of Lac Bay and north of the solar salt factory. 

Habitat:— The plants are found in the CoccolobaMelocactus Middle Terrace landscape type (de Freitas et al. 2005), on flat limestone pavements, at elevations near 5 m. Vegetation cover in the range of S. lougheediana is very sparse, and there is evidence that the current vegetation is greatly reduced from its potential density via introduced herbivores (Coolen, 2015; Roberts et al. 2018). 

Etymology:— The name honors Dr. Lin Lougheed, author, explorer, and patron of botanic gardens. 

Common Names:— The plant is called Sabalpalm on Bonaire. We also propose an additional common name “Bonaire Palm” to highlight its single-island endemism, and distinguish from its nearest geographic neighbor on Curaçao also called Sabalpalm.

M. Patrick Griffith, Quirijn Coolen, Michelle Barros and Larry R. Noblick. 2019. Sabal lougheediana (Arecaceae), A Critically Endangered, Endemic Palm Species from Bonaire. Phytotaxa. 420(2); 95–101. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.420.2.1