Schoepfia arenaria is a shrub or small tree about 20 feet tall with several trunks of up to 4 inches in diameter rising from its base. The bark is gray, very thick, and deeply furrowed; the dead, external crust is chocolate-colored on the inside. The internal crust is dark pink. It has 2-3 yellow, tubular flowers at the base of the leaf. The fruits are elliptical and light green when unripe and become glossy red with a thick whitish pulp. It flowers mainly in spring and fall and yields fruit in summer and winter.
This shrub is considered rare because it is only found in the coastal forests of northern Puerto Rico. It is a species endemic to the island and is found in Isabela, Fajardo, Piñones, and Rio Abajo State Forest. In the Isabela area there are about 100 known individuals in the limestone hill area and in the area of the Guajataca tunnel in Quebradillas. Limestone hills in this area have been destroyed in order to build Highway 2, and the area remains under continuous pressure for residential and tourist development. In Piñones, there are around 30 mature plants and numerous seedlings. The largest threats in this area are residential construction, creation of illegal dumps, and introduction of domestic animals. This shrub is also found in the limestone hills within the governor of Puerto Rico's beach house property. There are approximately 50 individuals in the area, and they are threatened by tourist development. A bush of this species was found in the Rio Abajo State Forest.
This species is included in the list of endangered species, which offers state and federal protection. However, it continues to be threatened because the areas where it is found are still under serious pressure for residential and tourist development.
Schoepfia arenaria was included in the Federal list of endangered species in 1991. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still evaluating development projects in areas where this species is found and struggles at all costs to preserve areas essential to its existence.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1991. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants: Determination of threatened status for the plant Schoepfia arenaria. Federal Register 56(76):16021-16024.
Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: May 27, 2009.