Capa Rosa

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Capa Rosa

Callicarpa ampla

ListedApril 22, 1992
FamilyVerbenaceae (Verbena)
DescriptionAn evergreen, tropical tree.
HabitatMontane tropical rainforest.
ThreatsForestry practices and other human disturbances.
RangePuerto Rico


Capa rosa (also known as pendula cimarrona) is an evergreen tree which may grow to 49 ft (15 m) tall. The young twigs are four-sided and whitish. Leaves are opposite, entire, broadest at the middle, and taper to both ends. They are 3-13 in (8-35 cm) long and 1-2.7 in (3-7 cm) wide, green on the upper surface, densely white scurfy below, and borne on a petiole about 0.9 in (2.2 cm) in length. The inflorescence is branched and has numerous, small, whitish flowers each with a four-lobed corolla about 0.1 in (0.3 cm) long. Fruits are white when young but become purplish upon maturity, and are 0.2 in (0 .5 cm) in diameter, with the calyx attached at the base.


At present, capa rosa is known only from the palo colorado forest of the Luquillo Mountains in northeastern Puerto Rico. All known sites occur within the Caribbean National Forest, managed by the U. S. Forest Service. The palo colorado forest is found at elevations greater than 2,132 ft (650 m). Humidity ranges from 90-100% on cloudy days. Precipitation varies from 118-177 in (300-450 cm) annually, with a relatively dry season occurring from February to April. The Luquillo Mountains are of volcanic origin, and igneous rocks, mostly andesitic in nature, cover the area. Basalt is the parent rock throughout these mountains. The floor of the palo colorado forest is covered by a thick organic surface layer. It is an evergreen forest with two strata which are not sharply defined. Tree height is generally less than 49 ft (15 m), crowns are low, and trees branch profusely. Cyrilla racemi-flora or palo colorado is the most prominent species in this type of forest. Other common trees are Microphyllous gracinifolia, M. chrysophylloides, and Ocotea spathulata.


Capa rosa was described by Schauer in 1847 from specimens collected in 1827 by Wydler at an unknown location in Pueto Rico. Since that time it has been collected seven times: six from Puerto Rico and one reportedly from St. Thomas. The St. Thomas record may be a questionable report. In Puerto Rico, the species has been collected in Barranquitas, Adjuntas, Utuado, Cayey, and the Luquillo Mountains. At present, capa rosa is known only from the palo colorado forest association in the Luquillo Mountains. Only 14 trees in five sites have been located. In addition, 15 seedlings were observed at one population site during post-Hurricane Hugo (1989) surveys.


Forest management practices such as the establishment and maintenance of plantations, selective cutting, trail and road construction and maintenance, and shelter construction may affect the species. The destruction of the dwarf or elfin forests for the construction and/or expansion of communication facilities by the U. S. Navy and private entities continues to be a problem. Although apparently not adversely affected, the extreme rarity of the species makes it vulnerable to natural catastrophes, such as the passage of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Conservation and Recovery

Actions to protect the capa rosa must be incorporated into management plans for the Caribbean National Forest. This should include the cessation of any timber harvesting in its habitat, and actions to foster its regeneration in areas previously affected. Plants should be propagated in captivity to provide stock for out-planting to enhance wild populations, and to establish new ones in suitable habitat. The populations of the capa rosa should be monitored at its wild habitats, and research conducted into its biology and habitat needs.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345

Boquerón Ecological Services Field Office
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Box 491
Boquerón, Puerto Rico 00622-0491
Telephone: (787) 851-7297
Fax: (787) 851-7440


Brown, S., A. E. Lugo, S. Silander, and L. Liegel.1983. "Research History and Opportunities in the Luquillo Experimental Forest." General Technical Report SO-44. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station, New Orleans, Louisiana. 128 pp.

Little, E. L., Jr., R. O. Woodbury, and F. H.Wadsworth. 1974. Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Second Volume. Agriculture Handbook No. 449, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 1024 pp.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1991. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Determination of Endangered Status for Five Puerto Rican Trees." Federal Register 57 (78): 14782-14785.