Kiaerskov's lidflower (Calyptranthes kiaerskovii)

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Leaves of Calyptranthes kiaerskovii
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Kiaerskov's lidflower fact file

Kiaerskov's lidflower description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderMyrtales
FamilyMyrtaceae
GenusCalyptranthes (1)

Kiaerskov’s lidflower (Calyptranthes kiaerskovii) is a small, evergreen tree known only from Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands and possibly from a single surviving individual in Puerto Rico (1) (2).

Very little information is available on Kiaerskov’s lidflower, but like other members of the Myrtaceae family it has leathery leaves which grow in opposite pairs, and the flowers are likely to grow in small clusters, known as an inflorescence (3) (4). The flowers of Calyptranthes species generally have up to five small petals, and the fruit is in the form of a fleshy berry that contains one to two seeds (3) (4) (5).

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Kiaerskov's lidflower biology

Very little is currently known about the biology of Kiaerskov’s lidflower. On Virgin Gorda, it has been seen flowering and fruiting between November and December, towards the end of the rainy season. However, no seedlings have been observed, suggesting that either the seeds are not germinating or the seedlings do not survive the dry season between March and May (1).

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Kiaerskov's lidflower range

The largest remaining population of Kiaerskov’s lidflower occurs within Gorda Peak National Park, on Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands (1) (2) (6). This rare plant has also been recorded at three sites in Puerto Rico, each containing just a single individual, but only one of these may still survive (1) (2).

Kiaerskov’s lidflower formerly occurred on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques and on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. However, it is now believed to be extinct at both these locations (1) (2).

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Kiaerskov's lidflower habitat

Kiaerskov’s lidflower occurs in moist forest, as well as in wetter areas of dry forest (1) (2) (6).

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Kiaerskov's lidflower status

Kiaerskov’s lidflower is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered

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Kiaerskov's lidflower threats

The population of Kiaerskov’s lidflower on Vieques Island was destroyed by the construction of a helipad (1) (2), while in Puerto Rico the main threat to this species is likely to have come from habitat loss due to development (1). Kiaerskov’s lidflower has not been recorded on Tortola for some time (1) (2), but the reasons for its demise there are unclear.

The largest surviving population of Kiaerskov’s lidflower, on Virgin Gorda, is thought to contain just 25 mature individuals, with a further mature tree around 100 metres away from the main group. In addition to the single individual thought to remain in Puerto Rico, this gives a total population of only around 27 known individuals, making Kiaerskov’s lidflower a highly endangered species (1). Although the Virgin Gorda population occurs within a protected area, the trees are near trails and so may be at risk from walkers, and fire is also a potential threat (1).

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Kiaerskov's lidflower conservation

On Virgin Gorda, Kiaerskov’s lidflower occurs entirely within Gorda Peak National Park, a protected area with reasonably well respected boundaries (1). A Darwin Initiative Project has undertaken conservation work in the British Virgin Islands, and recommendations for preserving the islands’ plant species include seed collection, monitoring programmes and introducing plants into cultivation. It will also be important to raise public awareness about the value of the region’s unique flora and its conservation (6).

ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra
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Find out more

Find out more about conservation in the British Virgin Islands and other UK Overseas Territories:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Evergreen
A plant which retains leaves all year round. This is in contrast to deciduous plants, which completely lose their leaves for part of the year.
Inflorescence
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Oldfield, S., Lusty, C. and MacKinven, A. (1998) The World List of Threatened Trees. World Conservation Press, Cambridge, UK.
  3. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Liogier, H.A. (1994) Descriptive Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands. Volumen III: Spermatophyta: Cyrillaceae to Myrtaceae. Universidad de Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico.
  5. Kubitzki, K. (Ed.) (2011) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Volume X: Flowering Plants. Eudicots: Sapindales, Cucurbitales, Myrtaceae. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
  6. Pollard, B.J. and Clubbe, C. (2003) Status Report for the British Virgin Islands’ Plant Species Red List. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK. Available at:
    http://www.kew.org/science/directory/projects/annex/BVIStatusReport.pdf
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Image credit

Leaves of Calyptranthes kiaerskovii  
Leaves of Calyptranthes kiaerskovii

© Marcella Corcoran / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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