CPC Plant Profile: Palo Colorado
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Plant Profile

Palo Colorado (Ternstroemia luquillensis)

Photo Credit: Little, E.L.; Wadsworth, F.; Woodbury, R.
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Pentaphylacaceae
  • State: PR
  • Nature Serve ID: 139241
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 12/01/2021

Ternstroemia luquillensis is an evergreen tree growing up to 20m tall. It has smooth, dark gray bark. Its creamy white flowers are fragrant and occur near the ends of the branches. The fruits contain several small bright red seeds.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to Puerto Rico, occurring in the Luquillo Mountains at about 3000 feet (915 meters), in transitional cloud forest. Only 6 individuals known to exist in 1995, in the Caribbean National Forest. Installation of electronic sites impacted colonies in the past; the species may recently have been damaged by two hurricanes (e.g., Hugo).

Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal
  • 01/01/2010

Forest management practices such as establishment and maintenance of plantations, and selective cutting Trail maintenance Construction of roads and communication facilities Collection Hurricanes

Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal
  • 01/01/2010

8-10 individuals total in 4-6 sites few more individuals on slopes (according to Woodbury) 6 individuals in 4 populations as of 1991 (USFWS 2006)

Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal
  • 01/01/2010

The Caribbean National Forest is in the process of developing a partnership or cooperative agreement with the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, Agricultural Extension Service in order to develop protocols for the reproduction and propagation of CNFs sensitive plant species. (Luis Rivera, pers. comm.)

Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal
  • 01/01/2010

Habitat change in the Caribbean National Forest often occurs more due to natural disturbances (e.g. hurricanes) than by management activities. The Forest has an Emergency Contingency Plan to deal yearly with the hurricane season. In case of a hurricane condition there are guidelines established to protect resources before, during and after a hurricane attack. The most typical damages to vegetation during these events are landslides, and acute mortality due to uprooting, defoliation or breakage of canopy or branches. (Luis Rivera, pers. comm.)

Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal
  • 01/01/2010

Long term status assessment Search for new populations/sites Identify potential recovery sites Reproductive biology Ecology Genetic structure/diversity Propagation techniques

Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal
  • 01/01/2010

Propagation and reintroduction Ex-situ population(s)


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Taxon Ternstroemia luquillensis
Authority Krug & Urb
Family Pentaphylacaceae
CPC Number 4208
ITIS 21375
Common Names Palo Colorado
Associated Scientific Names Ternstroemia luquillensis | Taonabo luquillensis
Distribution Luquillo Mountains of Eastern Puerto Rico (USFWS 1993)
State Rank
State State Rank
Puerto Rico S1

Occurs in two montane forest types: palo colorado and elvin or dwarf forest. Palo colorado is an evergreen forest type, described as an upland swamp, found at elevations greater than 600m. These forests are found on somewhat protected intermediate slopes and valleys, though high winds can occur at times. They do not have high plant diversity. Some of the common species in palo colorado forest are Cyrilla racemiflora (common name palo colorado for which the association is named), Calcyogonium squamulosum, and Micropholis garcinifolia. Elvin or dwarf montane forest occurs on summits and high slopes greater than 750m in elevation. The soils of these forests are water-saturated and therefore oxygen limited. The sites where this forest type is found are often exposed to high winds. The elvin forests are composed of dense stands of short gnarled trees and shrubs that are often covered with mosses and epiphytes. There are about 478 species of plants found in these forests. Some of them are: Calcyogonium squamulosum, Calyptranthes krugii, Miconia foveolata, Ocotea spathulata, and Tabebuia rigida. (USFWS 1993)

Ecological Relationships


Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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