The thatch palm (Coccothrinax inaguensis) is a relatively rare coastal species which is restricted to just a few islands in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos. It has a slender, smooth grey trunk and bears palmate leaves on long slim stems. (2)(3). The leaves are generally very stiff, with umbrella-shaped leaf blades which are shiny green above and silvery below (2)(4). A two-layered leaf sheath is closely woven with fine fibrous strands, forming an extension above the petiole (the small leaf stalk that joins the leaf to the stem) (2)(4).
The inflorescence of the thatch palm hangs down in clusters from the leaf sheath, curving down below the leaves (2)(3)(4). The outer petals and specialised leaves of the flower are yellow or straw-coloured, and the ovaries are yellowish-green (2). The small, round, berry-like fruits are borne on small stalks, and are red, purplish or blackish when ripe (2)(3)(4).
There is very little information available on the biology of the thatch palm. The flowers are known to be bisexual, with male and female reproductive structures on the same flower, and are wind pollinated(6). The fruits of the thatch palm are thought to be particularly attractive to certain bird species within the thrush family (Turdidae) (3).
The thatch palm is a relatively rare species that is primarily found in coastal areas with sandy or limestone soils (1)(2)(3). It is often found in areas of palm-shrub or dense coppice, and may occasionally be found in rocky coastal thickets (2).
The thatch palm is becoming an increasingly threatened species as it grows almost exclusively in coastal areas that are also prime development locations. It is also relatively difficult to transplant this species, and although it is possible to grow from seed, the thatch palm is extremely slow-growing and takes a long time to regenerate (3).
As the thatch palm is a relatively understudied species, it requires taxonomic research and ecological studies on its conservation status, regeneration rates, timing of flowering and fruiting, reproductive biology, dispersal, and response to deforestation and other potential threats (5). This species should be given high priority for more detailed fieldwork and subsequent conservation assessment (7).
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Coppicing is a traditional form of woodland management in which trees are cut close to the base of the trunk. Re-growth occurs in the form of many thin poles. Coppiced woodlands are cut in this way on rotation, producing a mosaic of different stages of re-growth.
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
In plants, known as the gynoecium, the female reproductive organs of a flower.
Having three or more veins, leaflets or lobes radiating from one point; like the palm of a hand with outstretched fingers.
To transfer pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
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