Sunday, 17 August 2014

Aegiphila caymanensis – Spirit Vine

By P. Ann van B. Stafford

Aegiphila caymanensis Moldenke, Fedde, Repert. Sp. Nov. 33: 118 (1933).
Spirit Vine
Grand Cayman endemic, Critically Endangered

Description in FLORA of the CAYMAN ISLANDS by George R. Proctor, 2012, page 582, Plate 56:
Flowers are usually polygamo-dioecious.

A velvety-tomentose shrub; leaves oblong-lanceolate, 5–9 cm long, 2–3.8 cm broad, acute to acuminate at the apex, the under-surface (in addition to hairs) densely clothed with minute glistening yellow glands; fine venation obscure. Cymes terminal and in the upper axils, laxly few-flowered; pedicels 6–9 mm long, glandular; calyx c. 4 mm long, glandular; corolla white, fading cream. Fruit oblong, c. 7 mm long.
GRAND CAYMAN: Hitchcock (type collected Jan 17, 1891); Correll & Correll 51005, coll. Nov. 11, 1979, near Farm Road NW of East End Village; Mrs. Ann Stafford s.n., coll. March 2, 2005 near Jasmin Lane, Spotts area. Long thought to be extinct, this rare species has been rediscovered by Mrs. Stafford and will now be propagated for survival.

1891 Jan.17  Albert S. Hitchcock (1865 - 1935) American botanist, collected the first specimen of Aegiphila caymanensis when he was a member of a party of naturalists led by J.T. Rothrock, who visited the Bahamas, Jamaica and Grand Cayman.  Hitchcock’s specimens were preserved at the Missouri Botanical Garden Herbarium in St. Louis. 

p.118 Aegiphila elata SW.Prod 1788
Port Morant; Grand Cayman downy form

1933 Aegiphila caymanensis Moldenke, Fedde, Repert. Sp. Nov. 33: 118 (1933).
The plant was identified as Aegiphila caymanensis, a Grand Cayman endemic (not A. elata), by Harold Norman Moldenke (1909–1996), an American botanist and taxonomist. 
Aegiphila caymanensis Moldenke, A.S. Hitchcock, Holotype, F
Field Museum of Natural History
Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, May 18, 2010 
The Field Museum and its collections originated from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the artifacts displayed at the fair. In order to house the exhibits and collections assembled for 1893 Chicago World’s Fair for future generations, Edward Ayer convinced the merchant Marshall Field to fund the establishment of a museum.[18] Originally titled the Columbian Museum of Chicago in honor of its origins, the Field Museum was incorporated by the State of Illinois on September 16, 1893, for the purpose of the "accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, and the preservation and exhibition of artifacts illustrating art, archaeology, science and history."[19] The Columbian Museum of Chicago occupied the only building remaining from the World's Columbian Exposition, the Palace of Fine Arts, which now houses the Museum of Science and Industry.[8]
In 1905, the Museum's name was changed to Field Museum of Natural History to honor the Museum's first major benefactor, Marshall Field, and to better reflect its focus on the natural sciences.

1999 Nov.11  D.S. and H.B. Correll, authors of Flora of the Bahamas Archipelago 1982, recorded A. caymanensis near Farm Rd,  NW of East End village.

2005 Feb.19   Ann Stafford notices a plant with white flowers and Opposite leaves at Jasmin Lane, Spotts,  114 years after Hitchcock discovered it.

2006 July 30 Ann Stafford - Valley Gardens subdivision, Lower Valley. Roadside, turning circle – boundary of the NW lots, in bloom. 2.5 miles due East of Jasmin Lane plant. 
Serendipity Feb. 2005
Jasmin Lane, Spotts

On Feb. 19, 2005, I noticed a vine with white flowers and OPPOSITE leaves at the northern end of Jasmin Lane,  in original growth dry, rocky woodland, by Ehretia tinifolia (Bastard Cherry), Bursera simaruba (Red Birch) and Elaeodendron xylocarpum (Wild Calabash), just before the land falls away to the lower, swampy area. This scrambling shrub / high-climbing woody vine probably wouldn’t be very noticeable, flowering high in the canopy, but it had lost its supporting trees during Hurricane Ivan, Sept. 11-12, 2004. Jasmin Lane was very dry and dusty, and post-Ivan debris has been dumped on the rock, making foot placement on pinnacle rock precarious.

March 6, 2005: I spoke to Dr. Proctor, in Jamaica, on the phone. When I first collected specimens, the leaves felt velvety on the underside, but I couldn’t really see the hairs with a hand lens.  I didn’t notice the oozing from the glands on the undersides of the leaves until I had put specimens in water at home.  When I had collected specimens on Feb. 27, to photograph the creamy-white flowers before they quickly turned yellow and wilted, the leaves oozed a very sticky, gluey substance, which I couldn’t remove with water – I had to use rubbing alcohol to get it off my camera and hands before I could drive home.


June 1, 2005  Tytia Habing, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park Nursery Manager, collects cuttings for propagation. 

Tytia, perched on pinnacle rock, collects cuttings.
 She said she never got one cutting to root, although she tried numerous different methods.
Aegiphila vine burnt - will it survive?
Trash dumped amongst the rocks by the edge of the road was burnt, and the surrounding vegetation was burnt too.
Photo: Ann Stafford, Jasmin Lane, May 9, 2016.

Dr. Proctor visits Grand Cayman

July 2005  His visit to Cayman was delayed by Hurricane Dennis and curtailed by Hurricane Emily.

Thurs. July 7  10am. Hurricane Dennis is 80 miles E. of Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston airport is closed.

Fri. July 8      Dr. Proctor eventually arrives from Kingston.

Thurs. July 14 10pm Cayman Islands are under Tropical Storm Watch for Hurricane Emily.

Fri. July 15      I gave Dr. Proctor two of my dried specimens of A. caymanensis to take to Jamaica. He didn’t think the dried leaves felt velvety. I give him prints of my photos and scanned virtual herbarium images and took him to Jasmin Lane to collect fresh specimens.  He was evacuated to Jamaica due to the advance of H. Emily, along with other visitors to Grand Cayman.

Valley Gardens, Lower Valley 
July 30, 2006  I find a second plant of Aegiphila caymanensis, just off the new turning circle in Valley Gardens subdivision, on the edge of the fast-disappearing Lower Valley Forest.

Valley Gardens subdivision, SOUTH of Shamrock Road (the map is upsidedown).
Aegiphila caymanensis location by turning circle, Valley Gardens subdivision, July 31, 2006

Aegiphila caymanensis location at Valley Gardens - 
Constance Drive turning circle, July 31, 2006
Aegiphila caymanensis on Jasmin Lane on the same day July 31, 2006

 Aegiphila caymanensis showing glistening yellow glands 
that contain a very sticky, gluey substance,
Jasmin Lane, March 7, 2007.

 Fruit, an oblong drupe, Jasmin Lane, April 2, 2008
Flowering, Valley Gardens subdivision, Constance Drive turning circle, June 20, 2008.
Aegiphila caymanensis, flowers usually polygamo-dioecious, 
 cymes terminal and in the upper  axils, 
Valley Gardens subdivision, Constance Drive turning circle, June 26, 2009.

An owl house, placed in the tree upon which the Critically Endangered 
Grand Cayman endemic Aegiphila caymanensis is scrambling,
has been invaded by BEES, Jasmin Lane, Aug. 24, 2010.

 Owl house, placed up in the tree upon which the Spirit Vine grows, was invaded by BEES.
They were smoked out and their home was partially burnt 
and was now at ground level by the side of the road. 
The bees were returning!
Ann Stafford, Jasmin Lane, July 13, 2014.
Grand Cayman's Critically Endangered endemic Aegiphila caymanensis  
is protected by bees!
There is a dip between Jasmin Lane and the pinnacle rock, where Spirit Vine grows.
A dead and dangerous Red Birch tree - Bursera simaruba, killed by Long-Horned Beetle larvae (Family: CEREMBICIDAE) has fallen and been dumped in the dip with other trash on top of the concealed burnt-out Owl house-Beehive, (bottom right).
The bees are still buzzing around.
Spirit Vine is flowering, Aug. 17, 2014.

Valley Gardens, Lower Valley
Aug. 17, 2014 - the 5 images below are of Aegiphila caymanensis at Valley Gardens subdivision, Constance Drive turning circle, on an undeveloped house lot. The scrambling shrub was in bloom, (on the same day that it was flowering at the Jasmin Lane location). It was growing amongst Tecoma stans - Shamrock, Cow-stick or Hemlock (Cayman Brac), Family: BIGNONIACEAE.

Stuart Mailer and Christine Rose-Smyth show the location 

Glistening yellow glands could be seen on the leaves.
Hairs could be seen on both sides of the leaves and stem, especially on a dried specimen with a hand-lens.
The Valley Gardens location is very vulnerable. This Critically Endangered Grand Cayman endemic could disappear from the overgrown house lot as soon as a bulldozer starts to clear for development.
 Location of Aegiphila caymanensis, now dead and buried, 
on Constance Drive turning circle, Valley Gardens.
 Ann Stafford, July 12, 2015.

A. caymanensis at Jasmin Lane, Spotts on Aug.17, 2014,
showing growth habit, a scrambling viney shrub, the leaves and flowers are high up.

Aegiphila caymanensis Moldenke is Critically Endangered

Key to species recorded in Cayman
Flora of the Cayman Islands by George R. Proctor, 2012, p.582 

1. Stems, underside of leaves, and inflorescence densely clothed with velvety brownish hairs; calyx truncate with 4 minute teeth; corolla-tube 13 mm long or more:
1. A. caymanensis

1. Stems, etc., glabrous or nearly so; calyx with 4 or 8 wavy lobes, rarely merely 4-toothed; corolla-tube 5–8 mm long:
    2. A. elata
Aegiphila elata Sw., Nov. Gen.& Sp. Pl. 31 (1788)
Mexico to Venezuela, Greater Antilles, Martinique, Barbados, Grand Cayman 
Flowering stem

Flora of the Cayman Islands by George R. Proctor, 2012, p.582 and 
Collectors of Cayman Islands plants p.21, and Herbaria where specimens were deposited.
In Grand Cayman, it was collected by Brunt 1751; Kings GC 60; Millspaugh 1281; Rothrock 158, 235.
1891 Feb.         John T. Rothrock, Field Museum
1899 Feb.         Charles F. Millspaugh, Field Museum
1938 June 17    Wilfred W. Kings, British Museum, Gray Herbarium of Harvard University and/or                                                              Institute of Jamaica 
1967 May-June Martin Brunt, British Museum and/or Institute of Jamaica  

1891 Feb.         John T. Rothrock, Field Museum
p.118 Aegiphila elata SW.Prod 1788
Port Morant; Grand Cayman downy form

1899 Feb.         Charles F. Millspaugh, Field Museum
Plants collected in Bermuda, Porto Rico, St. Thomas, Culebras, Santo Domingo, Jamaica, Cuba, the Caymans, Cozumel, Yucatan and the Alacran Shoals, Dec, 1898 to March 1899.
The Antillean Cruise of the Yacht Utowana
Mr. Allison. V. Armour, Owner and Master 
by Charles Frederick Millspaugh, M.D.
Curator of Department of Botany
Field Columbian Museum, Chicago, USA
March 1900
Caribbean map, showing Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac

The Antillean Cruise of the Yacht Utowana
map of the voyage p.1, Pl. XXV
Charles F. Millspaugh was a guest of Allison V. Armour, the Chicago meat-packing millionaire, on a West Indian cruise of the yacht Utowana. They visited the Cayman Islands during February, 1899. The chief set of Millspaugh’s specimens is in the herbarium of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Millspaugh published lists of his collection.

On Dec. 24, 1898 the Yacht Utowana departed from New York in the morning and in the afternoon, a course was laid from Sandy Hook for the Bermudas. (p.3)

Cayman Islands (pp.6-8)
On February 8, 1899, the Utowana stopped at The Creek ,‘Cayman Brae’ (Cayman Brac). A Norther sprang up in the night, so they had to leave for  a point further west, where they anchored. They did some more collecting and then sailed on to Little Cayman, but found no safe harbour. They reached Georgetown (sic), Grand Cayman, after dark on Feb. 9. The Health Officer forbade them to land as their last port (Port Antonio, Jamaica) was reported to be infected with measles.  Millspaugh, however, was given permission to go ashore elsewhere as long as he kept away from any other person or dwelling that he might encounter. He made an extended trip along the shore north of the port and into the borders of the lagoon (North Sound) (1238-1265).

Because of the Norther, they had to leave George Town and anchored at ‘Spot Bay’ (Spotts) (1266-1354), on the south side of the island.
Spotts (Spot Bay), south coast, Grand Cayman, rough sea on the reef

Tues. Feb. 14, 1899 Mr. Armour, Mr. Isham and Millspaugh made an extended excursion into the interior of Grand Cayman. (1355-1391). They encountered swarms of mosquitoes. As the weather deteriorated on the south coast, they left Spotts in the evening and returned to their previous anchorage off George Town. The Board of Health had raised their quarantine and they were invited ashore. The Norther was the worst the inhabitants had experienced for 20 years. Millspaugh spent an hour collecting about the streets and vacant lots (1392-1406). He was summoned aboard by the ship’s whistle as the wind had shifted again and the anchorage was becoming untenable.

They set sail from the storm-beaten Cayman Islands on a course for the Isle of Pines, Cuba.

Tea Banker - Pectis caymanensis (1279 - type) was collected by Millspaugh while the Utowana was anchored at Spotts in February 1899.

Aegiphila elata Sw  Wilfred KINGS, June 17, 1938
TROPICOS  - Missouri Botanical Garden

Yellow flowers, glossy leaves, location - South Sound: sand and limestone, Grand Cayman, during the 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands. 
Collection date June 17, 1938.

South Sound, Grand Cayman showing location of only strip of woodland along the coast, 
Ordnance Survey map 1978.
1938 - South Sound included the area that is now called Windsor Park (not marked on map).
In his report of the botanical collections from the Cayman Islands 1938, Wilfred Kings listed the localities visited, including South Sound - Beach, and Bluff, mainly along "Leg and Knee Road". This was a twisting path that would have been in the forested area to the north of the South Sound Mangrove swamp.  (Ref. Capt. Paul Hurlston, Aug.26, 2014.) 

GC 60 June 17, 1938 (17.VI.38) Bush, yellow flowers, glossy leaves. Locality - sand and limestone. The plants collected on that day (GC 58-71) were from along the beach, not Leg and Knee Road (bluff) in the interior. (Ref. Wilfred Kings notes on seed-bearing plant specimens, Cayman Islands National Archive Aug.28, 2014.)
(A 1947 map shows only the South Sound coast road, no interior roads.)

GC 58 June 17, 1938 Mint - mat-like plant, small yellow flowers Pectis caymanensis (Proctor p.665)
GC 59 June 17, 1938 mat-like, small white flowers Heliotropium humifusum (Proctor p.563)
Aegiphila elata Sw. Martin Brunt, No.1751, May to June 1967 (I have not been able to trace this entry).

A. caymanensis and A. elata:

Perhaps Grand Cayman has only one species of Aegiphila.

Hitchcock and Rothrock were on the same collecting expedition in 1891. It is probable that they collected from the same plant. 

Hitchcock’s specimens were deposited in Missouri Botanical Garden (MO) and/or Field Museum of Natural History (F), while Rothrock’s specimens only in the Field Museum.

The Hitchcock specimen (downy form) was identified as A. caymanensis by H. N. Moldenke and cited by him in his Monograph of the Genus, Winter of 1930, 1931, (40 years after it was collected).
1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands

April 17 – August 27, 1938
'Oxford house', South Church St.  This house was moved from its original location on South Sound, where Caribbean Paradise is now. The 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands participants stayed in it for some of the time.  Ref. Capt. Paul Hurlston. Photo: Ann Stafford, Nov.30, 2007.

The party comprised:-
W. Gemell Alexander – Leader and Organiser
C. Bernard Lewis (Wadham College) – Biologist (lewisi), (Rhodes Scholar from the United States)
Gerald H. Thompson – Biologist (thompsoni), 20 years old (Secretary of the Oxford University Entomological Society)
W. Neil Paton (Magdalen College) – Marine Biologist
Wilfred Kings – Botanist  (kingsii) Geography Master at Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby

Kings was invited to join the expedition by Gemell Alexander on March 21, in the capacity of Botanist, as their Botanist was unable to join the Expedition at last minute. He saw Mr. Alston at the British Museum (Natural History), explained the situation and also that he was not a specialist in any capacity, and he was assured that they were satisfied that he should join the Expedition merely as a collector.

He was given leave of absence for the term from the Lawrence Sheriff School and joined the party in Grand Cayman on May 13, 1938. Specimens GC 27-57 were collected before his arrival. Specimens GC 1-20 were insufficiently dried before departure to Cayman Brac and some moulded specimens had to be discarded.
Ref. Oxford University Cayman Expedition Report on the Botanical Collections from Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Sept. 1938, W. Kings.  


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