Ilex sintenisii

views updated

Ilex sintenisii

No Common Name

ListedApril 22, 1992
FamilyAquifoliaceae (Holly)
DescriptionShrub or small tree, up to 14.7 ft (4.5 m) in height.
HabitatElevations above 2,461 ft (750 m) on windward, ridge, and leeward areas of the mountain tops.
ThreatsEstablishment and maintenance of plantations, selective cutting, trail and road construction and maintenance, shelter construction, construction of facilities, natural catastrophes.
RangePuerto Rico


Ilex sintenisii is a shrub or small tree which may reach 14.7 ft (4.5 m) in height and 3 in (7.6 cm) in diameter. Leaves are alternate, glabrous, obovate to elliptic, coriaceous, 0.4-1 in (1-2.5 cm) long and 0.25-0.75 in (0.6-1.9 cm) wide, and notched at the apex with the edges turned under. The bark is gray, smooth, and usually covered with mosses and liverworts. The flowers are white, axillary on pedicels, 0.2-0.4 in (0.4-1 cm) long, and four-to five-parted. The fruits are drupes which are green when immature.


The dwarf or elfin forest is found at elevations above 2,461 ft (750 m) on windward, ridge, and leeward areas of the mountain tops. The dwarf forest covers only approximately 556 acres (225 hectares) or 2% of the Caribbean National Forest. Roots of plants in the dwarf forest are found in the soil profile and immediately above, appressed to trunks and hanging freely in the air. The forest is composed of dense stands of short, small diameter, gnarled trees and shrubs. The plants and the forest floor are covered with mosses and epiphytes. This vegetation is exposed to winds and usually shrouded with clouds. The three most common plants are Pilea krugii, Wallenia yunquensis, and Calycogonium squamulosum.


I. sintenisii was first discovered by Paul Sintenis in the upper elevations of the Luquillo Mountains. This Puerto Rican endemic is found only in the Luquillo Mountains where it is restricted to the dwarf or elfin forest. A total of 150 individuals in three populations have been reported.


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. In addition, the extreme rarity of the species makes it vulnerable to natural catastrophes, such as the passage of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Conservation and Recovery

Protection of I. sintenisii should be incorporated into management plans for the Caribbean National Forest. Propagation for the establishment of new populations or the enhancement of existing ones should be considered a priority recovery mechanism.


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

Caribbean Field Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Box 491
Boquerón, Puerto Rico 00622
Telephone: (809) 851-7297


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.