Cobana Negra

views updated

Cobana Negra

Stahlia monosperma

ListedApril 5, 1990
FamilyLeguminosae (Fabaceae)
DescriptionMedium-sized, evergreen tree with pinnately compound, alternate leaves.
HabitatBrackish, seasonally flooded wetlands.
ThreatsCoastal development
RangePuerto Rico


A medium-sized evergreen tree, Cobana Negra reaches 25-50 ft (7.6-15.2 m) in height and 1-1.5 ft (30.5-45.7 cm) in diameter. Its compound, alternate leaves have from 6-12 opposite leaflets with scattered black glands on their backside. Flowers are yellow and are produced between March and May, depending upon the amount of rainfall. A thin, red, fleshy fruit with one large seed is produced during late June or mid-July. This fruit has a distinctive ripe apple odor. Seeds are animal-dispersed and germinate after burial when the surface water has receded.


Cobana Negra is found on the edge of salt flats in brackish, seasonally flooded wetlands. Its associates are black mangrove and buttonwood mangrove.


Scattered populations survive in Puerto Rico, the island of Vieques, and in the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic. The largest population (23 adult trees and 35 seedlings) is located on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico near Boqueron. Other mature trees are found on the northeast coast in Rio Grande, and 30-40 individuals occur on Vieques, a 32-sq mi (82.9 sq km) island east of Puerto Rico. The species is also reportedly rare in the Dominican Republic.


Coastal development, along with its resulting dredging and filling of wetlands, poses the biggest threat to this species. The tree's largest population is close to Boqueron, an area proposed for residential and tourist complexes. Despite the fact that many mangroves are included in Commonwealth Forests, many Cobana Negra individuals are inland of black mangrove and are not considered within forest boundaries (Commonwealth-owned and managed land). Collecting is another threat; the wood of this species has been used to make fence-posts and furniture. Tree seedlings are frequently trampled or browsed by cattle.

Conservation and Recovery

The Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources is currently conducting successful propagation and planting efforts of Cobana Negra. Some trees are found in yards and roadways. Because this species produces large quantities of viable seed, attempts to control cattle grazing could increase natural populations. The Vieques island population is located on U.S. Navy land, and this agency should attempt to protect it.


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

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


Ayensu, E.S. and R.A. DeFilipps. 1978. Endangered and Threatened Plants of the United States. Smithsonian Institution and World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D. C. xv + 403 pp.

Densmore, R. 1987. Status Report on Stahlia monosperma (Cobana Negra) in Southwestern Puerto Rico. Unpublished Report Submitted to the Caribbean Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boqueron, Puerto Rico.

Department of Natural Resources. Natural Heritage Program. 1988. Status Information on Stahlia monosperma in Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. April 5, 1990. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Determination of Threatened Status for Stahlia monpsperma (Cobana Negra). Federal Register 55:66:12790-12792.