CPC Plant Profile: El Yunque Palo Colorado
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Plant Profile

El Yunque Palo Colorado (Ternstroemia subsessilis)

Drawing of Ternstroemia subsessilis-Ternstroemia luquillensis twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruit Photo Credit: Little, E.L.; Wadsworth, F.; Woodbury, R.
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Theaceae
  • State: PR
  • Nature Serve ID: 146177
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 12/01/2021

Ternstroemia subsessilis is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 5m tall. The white flowers grow in the leaf axils near the end of the branches and the fruit is a capsule with a sharply pointed tip.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to upper Luquillo and upper Cordillera forests of Puerto Rico, occurring near summits of Luquillo Mountains and historically Monte del Estado (2500-3000 feet). Only 37 individuals known in four occurrences (in 1995 and 2000). In public forests of Luquillo and historically also Maricao.

Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal
  • 01/01/2010

Construction of roads and communication facilities
Forest management practices (including establishment and maintenance of plantations)
Trail maintenance

Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal
  • 01/01/2010

15 individuals total in 2 site 30 individuals in 3 populations at 1 sites (reference when) 37 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
Search for new populations/sites
Identify potential recovery sites
Reproductive biology
EcologyGenetic 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 subsessilis
Authority (Britt.) Kobuski
Family Theaceae
CPC Number 4209
ITIS 21378
Common Names Fraser
Associated Scientific Names Ternstroemia subsessilis
Distribution Luquillo Mountains of Eastern Puerto Rico (USFWS 1993)
State Rank
State State Rank
Puerto Rico S1

Occurs in elfin or dwarf montane forest, which 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 elfin 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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