Sunday, 26 July 2015

Cayman Brown Leaf Butterfly - Memphis verticordia danielana

Cayman Brown Leaf Butterfly - Memphis verticordia danielana (Witt, 1972)

Cayman Islands endemic butterfly
Family: NYMPHALIDAE - Brush-footed Butterflies.

Flicker issue #10 July/Aug. 2010 

Hanging on the Edge - The Life of the Cayman Brown Leaf Butterfly

by P. Ann van B. Stafford    pp.16-21



2008 by R.R. Askew and P.A. van B. Stafford
Memphis verticordia danielana   p.39-41

Cayman Brown Leaf butterfly resting
Cayman Brown Leaf Butterfly larvae on pseudospurs they made on 
Wild Cinnamon leaves - Croton nitens, Family: EUPHORBIACEAE, Grand Cayman, Nov. 17, 2009.
caterpillar securing its rolled leaf shelter with silk, Sept. 21, 2010
caterpillar has secured its rolled leaf shelter with silk, Sept. 22, 2010
newly emerged Cayman Brown Leaf butterfly, Feb.11, 2010

Cayman Ghost Orchid - Dendrophylax fawcettii

Cayman Islands Ghost Orchid - Dendrophylax fawcettii Rolfe
Grand Cayman endemic

Flora of the Cayman Islands by George R. Proctor 2012 p.208, Fig.75, Plate 10
 
Ironwood Forest maps and pictures 
Cayman Islands endemic Ironwood - Chionanthus caymanensis, Family OLEACEAE, is the predominant tree.
Flora of the Cayman Islands by George R. Proctor 2012 p.595, Fig.221, Plate 58


Ghost Orchid - Dendrophylax fawcettii, 
showing flowers with ghostly face and long spur,
Critically Endangered Grand Cayman endemic. 

Photo: P. Ann van B. Stafford, April 3, 2008

 Ghost Orchid - Dendrophylax fawcettii
showing stolon - elongated stem, 
on the end of which tiny new roots are growing and from which a new plant is formed.
Photo: P. Ann van B. Stafford, Aug.6, 2013.


 
Cayman's Ghost Orchid, which has no leaves or pseudobulbs,
 grows on bare rocky limestone karst pinnacles (epipetric) or 
on other plants (epiphytic).
The fragrant, night-scented flowers attract Sphinx (Hawk) Moths. 
The orchid's long spur contains nectar on which the moths feed, using their proboscis (long tongue) like a drinking straw.
The Giant Sphinx Moth -  Cocytius antaeus is the most probable pollinator of Cayman's Ghost Orchid.

Florida Ghost Orchid visited by the Giant Sphinx Moth
in south Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve – watch the video.

Cayman Islands Ghost Orchid Dendrophylax fawcettii listed in 
100 Most Threatened Species p.40
Priceless or Worthless? 


Priceless or Worthless p.40-41

Dendrophylax fawcettii 

Cayman Islands Ghost Orchid

Text reviewed by the Orchid Specialist Group

Population size: Unknown
Range: < 1km2 ironwood Forest, George Town, Grand Cayman
Threats: Habitat destruction due to infrastructure development
Action required: Development of legislation that will facilitate the protection of the Ironwood Forest 

Known only from Grand Cayman Island, the ethereal ghost orchid (Dendrophylax fawcettii) grows on the trunks of trees and bare rocky limestone karst pinnacles. A leafless, spider-like network of roots for most of the year, delicate pale cream flowers bloom between April and June, decorating the moist forest adjoining the wetlands. Sadly, this beautiful orchid faces an uncertain future. The Ironwood Forest, the last remaining fragment of old-growth forest in George Town, is bounded on all sides by the urban development of the nation’s capital. The forest extends to just 46 acres of this, while the ghost orchids are confined to an area of only six acres.

Development of the west side of Grand Cayman has been voracious in recent years. In 2008, government plans to construct a bypass through the forest, and through the portion occupied by the orchids, provoked outcry from both the public and the owners of the privately-held Ironwood Forest land. The forest won a stay of execution thanks to the campaign by the protestors and the bypass plans were shelved. However, this temporary reprieve will be insufficient to ensure the long term survival of the enchanting ghost orchid as the Ironwood Forest continues to remain without any formal protection. The successful protection of the forest would also preserve (among numerous other native species) four additional Cayman Islands endemics of cultural as well as natural significance (Ironwood: Chionanthus caymanensis, Thatch palm: Coccothrinax proctorii, the Banana orchid: Myrmecophila thomsoniana (Cayman’s National Flower), and Hohenbergia caymanensis). The latter, a giant bromeliad nick-named “Old George”, is known naturally only from this area.



What needs to be done?

The Cayman Islands currently lack the comprehensive conservation legislation necessary to establish national protected areas, and only five per cent is under the protection of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. With appropriate legislation, protection of the Ironwood Forest would be possible, either by purchase or through establishing management agreements with the private landowners. This would benefit the landowners by enabling them to maintain their land in its natural state, as they have done for generations. All that is required to enable this is the political will. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fustic Trees – Critically Endangered


Fustic - Maclura tinctoria (L.) Don ex Steud. (synonym: Chlorophora tinctoria), Family: MORACEAE
Khaki dye tree
by P. Ann van B. Stafford

Fustic tree - Maclura tinctoria is Critically Endangered in the Cayman Islands.
Fustic is native to the West Indies and continental tropical America, to Argentina. It grows in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac. It is DIOECIOUS - male and female flowers grow on separate trees. Fruits are borne on the female trees only, which must be sufficiently close to receive pollen from a tree with male flowers in spikes or catkins.
FLORA of the CAYMAN ISLANDS by George R. Proctor 2012, p. 241. Fig. 84.
Cayman Islands RED LIST Native Flora 

Female Fustic tree at the Agricultural Grounds
in Lower Valley, Jan. 13, 2002

It is a culturally significant Cayman tree - it was exported from Grand Cayman from the mid-1700’s to the early 1800’s for its yellowish dye, known as fustic or khaki, which was extracted from the wood. It was used to dying military uniforms and schoolboys clothing. 

1765 Royal Navy officers Remark Books provide information about Cayman. HMS Active anchored off Grand Cayman. Captain Robert Carkett noted that there were about 20 families, most of whom cut Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) and Fustic (Maclura tinctoria) which were exported to Jamaica.

 Female Fustic tree branch bearing fruits - edible, but not very palatable,
adjacent to Grand Palms condos, by Point Four, South Church St, Nov. 1, 2003
Fustic tree on Cayman Islands Stamps First Day Cover -
Cultural Series Part I - TREES, Feb.23, 2006.

 Fustic tree (female) in a garden on Conch Point Road, West Bay, Grand Cayman, Oct. 20, 2002.

Caycar Apartments stepwell, Denham Thompson Way, 
close to the male and female Fustic trees in Harts' horse pasture and Point Four. 
A young Fustic tree was growing in the well with the ferns.
After Hurricane Ivan (Sept. 2004), rubble was dumped into the well and it was grassed over. 
The unmarked historic stepwell lies hidden beneath the lawn.
Ann Stafford, Nov. 1, 2003. 


Young Fustic tree in the very rocky Ironwood Forest, George Town, Grand Cayman,
Nov. 13, 2006.

Juvenile Fustic leaves
Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, April 24, 2005.

'Old Lady Fustic' - female Fustic tree, behind the old West Wind Building
(between the present Flagship Building and Butterfield Bank), Oct. 12, 2003.
 Offspring of "Old Lady Fustic" by a drain in the parking lot, April 24, 2005.
Two were rescued by the late Lois Blumenthal.

'Old Lady Fustic' - female Fustic tree, behind the old West Wind Building
(between the present Flagship Building and Butterfield Bank), July 28, 2006.


'Old Lady Fustic' getting squeezed out by encroaching construction, July 28, 2006.

Fustic is DIOECIOUS - male and female flowers grow on separate trees. 
Pistillate - female flowers in rounded heads. 
The aggregate fruits are fleshy and edible, but not very palatable.    Ann Stafford, West Bay, Grand Cayman, Oct.20. 2002.   

Female rounded flower heads, aggregate fruit.
Ann Stafford, Agricultural Grounds, Lower Valley, Grand Cayman, May 17, 2015.
Mora, of Khaki Fame   Maclura tinctoria
Excerpts from Jim Conrad's Naturalist Newsletter. Yucatán, México:
"The greenish "hairs" on the above "fruits" are styles, which are the "necks" connecting pollen- receiving stigmas or stigmatic surfaces with the ovaries. Each of the "fruits" in the picture is technically a collection of many actual fruits packed very closely together."

Fustic tree (female) at the end of Leafy Lane, off Walkers Road, Aug. 28, 2005.
Fustic tree (female) at the end of Leafy Lane, off Walkers Rd, George Town, Jan. 31, 2011.
The path leads to Goring Avenue.

Fustic tree (female) at the end of Leafy Lane - STUMPED, gone, May 17, 2015.
Fustic tree (female), Bodden Road, Grand Cayman, Oct. 9, 2003
Fustic tree (female), Bodden Road, Grand Cayman, May 20, 2015

Fustic tree, King Road, West Bay, Grand Cayman, Oct. 20, 2002.


Fustic tree (male) in our George Town garden, Jan, 31, 2013
Fustic tree (male) in our George Town garden, April 18, 2014
Fustic is DIOECIOUS - male and female flowers grow on separate trees. 
Staminate - male flowers - catkins. 
Ann Stafford, South Church St, Grand Cayman, Oct.20. 2002.


 Male Fustic tree opposite the Central Police Station in George Town,  
behind Godfrey's Enterprises, July 28, 2006.
  Male Fustic tree opposite the Central Police Station in George Town, 
behind Godfrey's Enterprises, May 17, 2015.
 
 Fustic catkins on male tree, Nov. 1, 2003
 Felled Fustic tree along track parallel to Newport Ave. George Town, Grand Cayman, Feb.1, 2006.
Cayman Islands Orchid Society members searching for Critically Endangered Ghost Orchids (Dendrophylax fawcettii)
amongst the recently felled trees, including Critically Endangered Fustic (Maclura tinctoria).
Much more very rocky original growth forest was cleared than that which was built on.

Wildlife interactions 

Fustic is a larval food plant of the Fig Sphinx moth - Pachylia ficus, Family: SPHINGIDAE. Fustic belongs to the same Family: MORACEAE as Wild Fig - Ficus aurea, a well-known larval food plant of Fig Sphinx.
Pachylia ficus - Fig Sphinx Moth, Costa Rica
Maclura tinctoria is shown as a larval food plant.

Fig Sphinx moth - Pachylia ficus larva, feeding on a
Fustic tree - Maclura tinctoria, Family: MORACEAE, Critically Endangered, in a private garden.
Fustic belongs to the same family as Wild Fig - Ficus aurea,
known larval food plant of Fig Sphinx.
Photo: Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet, Jan. 27, 2013

All stages of the moth are shown. 

 Blue-throated Anole Lizard - Anolis conspersus conspersus lives in Fustic tree.
Grand Cayman, April 3, 2011. 
Habitat light, colour variation and ultraviolet reflectance in the Grand Cayman Anole, Anolis conspersus
Joseph M. Macedonia

"Data from a diversity of sources are consistent with the hypothesis that the Grand Cayman anole, Anolis conspersus , is descended directly from Anolis grahami of Jamaica. Although the two species have remained morphologically similar, coloration in A. conspersus has changed considerably from that of its ancestor. The most dramatic difference is seen in dewlap colour, where A. conspersus has evolved a blue and highly UV-reflective dewlap from the ancestral orange-and-yellow colour state. In addition, variation in normal (non-metachrosis) dorsum coloration in A. grahami populations is limited to shades of green (olive, emerald, teal), whereas in A. conspersus dorsum coloration varies from green to blue and to brown. This increased colour variation occurs despite Grand Cayman being a small, relatively featureless island only 35 km in length. Results of this study suggest that ambient light differences associated with precipitation-related vegetation structure may have played an important role in the evolution of A. conspersus body colour variation."
"...three "color morphs" (green, brown, and blue).."

Smooth-billed Ani, locally called Black Arnold or Old Arnold - Crotophaga ani - 
communal nest, high up in Fustic tree in a George Town garden, April 3, 2014.
Anis eat Fig Sphinx moth caterpillars.

Fustic uses

The wood is very tough and close-grained. Fustic was exported from Grand Cayman from the mid-1700’s to the early 1800’s for its yellowish dye, known as fustic or khaki, which was extracted from the wood. It was used to dying military uniforms and schoolboys clothing. 

Cayman Cub Scouts in their khaki uniforms marching in the St. George's Day Parade
along the George Town waterfront, April 27, 1975. 

Manual of Dendrology JAMAICA  2003 by Tracey Parker, PhD
Historically used for wooden wheels and mill rollers, suitable for furniture and cabinet work; railroad ties; smoking pipes; previously exported as a dye for khaki; bark reportedly medicinal (Mabberley 1997). p.277.
Argentine Osage Orange - Maclura tinctoria
The wood is very durable and has good weathering characteristics; it is also resistant to termites.
Heavy construction (within the tree’s natural range), flooring, furniture, turnings, and other small specialty wood items.

Old fustic was used extensively from about 1600 to 1850, as it produces a strong colour at low cost. During the WW1, fustic was one of the main dyes used to produce khaki for army uniforms.

Conservation 



Fustic tree (female) off South Church St, May 26, 2004
House plans were modified so that the tree was preserved.
The same female Fustic tree after the house was built, Oct.8, 2005.

The same female Fustic tree, May 20, 2015.


 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Headache Bush


Headache Bush (Cayman Islands)
Black Willow (Jamaica & the Bahamas); Jamaica Caper (USA)
Capparis cynophallophora  
(syn. Quadrella cynophallophora)    Caper Family: CAPPARACEAE  
Florida, West Indies and continental tropical America, in rocky thickets and woodlands.

Headache Bush is an attractive native shrub or small tree with a rounded, compact crown, suitable for use in landscaping.

The ALTERNATE leathery leaves are shiny, dark green above, and greyish-green with tiny, rusty scales on the underside. The juvenile leaves are very long and narrow.
The pretty flowers are white when they open at sunset, with a pleasant fragrance that attracts moths. 

When the sun comes up the following morning, they wilt, gradually turning pink and then purplish.


The pod-like fruits (capsules) split open sideways to reveal a bright red interior with black seeds.
Medicinal uses: 
Leaves were chopped, crushed and put in a bottle and used as smelling salts for a headache. Crushed leaves applied externally for toothache.
(Wilfred Kings, 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands, G.C.142)
The stem and leaves were boiled to make a tea to relieve headaches. The leaves were also used dry.
(Healing Plants of the Cayman Islands, compiled by Lorna McCubbin, March 15, 1995).
Wildlife:
Headache Bush is sometimes the larval food plant of the Great Southern White butterfly – Ascia monuste, Family: PIERIDAE, although the eggs and caterpillars are much more commonly found on the related Bloody Head-Raw Bones - Capparis fluexuosa, (Bottle-cod Root – Jamaica;  Limber Caper - USA).

CaymANNature Flora photos 

Medicinal Plants and Cultural Uses    in Cayman- photos

FLORA of the CAYMAN ISLANDS by George R. Proctor p.333, Fig.118, Pl.23

Jamaica Caper tree (called Headache Bush in Cayman)