Palma manaca is a medium-sized tree that grows to a height of 30 feet. It slightly resembles the coconut palm tree in both its trunk and leaves, but it is smaller. Its trunk is hard and cylindrical, somewhat smooth, slightly cracked, and of uniform diameter. The evergreen top is made up of approximately 15-20 non-hanging leaves that extend up to 25 feet wide. Several bunches of flowers from 3 to 4 feet long, stretched and hanging, sprout out on the lower leaves but when they mature, they remain on the lowest leaves left. Flowers are white, numerous, slightly curved, and flat; 2 males and 1 female are born together; the male flower opens first. The seed is round. It flowers in winter and bears fruits in summer.
Palma manaca is the rarest of Puerto Rican palms. Only three natural populations are known and two small populations were introduced in San Sebastian, Camuy River, Guajataca River, Camp Guajataca, and Rio Abajo State Forest. There is an estimated population of 275 individuals in the five areas where this species is known. They are all in a seasonal semi-evergreen forest in the karstic region of northwestern Puerto Rico at elevations of 100 to 150 meters. The three natural populations are found along a marshy creek. This palm is endangered because it is located on private lands and areas near their location continue to be deforested. Also, flashfloods that occur in the area threaten the species and make establishing young plants difficult.
As a recovery measure, propagation is taking place in nurseries run by the Government of Puerto Rico and this species is being reintroduced in protected areas. In addition, owners of property where this kind of species is found are kept informed of their citizen`s responsibility of protecting and conserving this endangered species.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: August 27, 2014.
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