Myrcia Paganii

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Myrcia paganii

No Common Name

Þ StatusEndangered
ListedFebruary 18, 1994
FamilyMyrtaceae (Myrtle)
DescriptionEvergreen tree with mottled, flaky outerbark, and orange-brown inner bark.
HabitatLimestone hills in northwestern Puerto Rico.
ThreatsStochastic extinction.
RangePuerto Rico


Myrcia paganii is an evergreen tree which may reach 30 ft (9.1 m) in height and 5 in (12.7 cm) in diameter. The outer bark is mottled and flaky, while the inner bark is orange-brown. Young twigs are flattened and have numerous soft brownish hairs. The leave are opposite, simple, entire, coriaceous, aromatic, and glandular punctate below. The leaf blade is elliptic-oblong, villous when young but glabrescent, 4-6 in (10.2-15.2 cn) long and 1.5-3.5 in (3.8-8.9 cm) wide. The leaf base is acute and the midvein is clearly impressed above. Petioles are 0.16-0.2 in (4-5 mm) long. The flowers and fruit have not been described.


M. paganii is found in the semi-evergreen or evergreen seasonal forest of the subtropical moist forest life zone, on limestone hills at elevations from 490-1150 ft (149.4-350.5 m). Soils in these hills are shallow, well-drained, alkaline, and interspersed between outcrops of hard limestone. Mean annual precipitation varies from 59 to 79 in (149.9 to 200.7 cm). Two strata are present in this type of forest. The upper strata is composed of a continuous layer which extends up to 65 ft (19.8 m) in height with a few emergent trees reaching 80 ft (24.4 m). From one-third to two-thirds of the species are deciduous. The second strata reaches 30 ft (9.1 m) in height and the number of deciduous species is low. Most species are evergreen, with simple, microphyllous leaves. Palm species may be common in this strata. Other rare and endangered species found within this forest type include the Puerto Rican boa (Epicrates inornatus ).


M. paganii is endemic to the island of Puerto Rico. It was first collected by Paul Sintenis during the last part of the nineteenth century. The species was not collected again until it was discovered to the south of the city of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. All known localities are on private land in the limestone hills in northwestern Puerto Rico. It is currently known from this site, where six individuals are found, and two other locations in Quebradillas, where one tree is known to occur at each.


Species in the limestone hills are threatened by deforestation for agricultural, urban, tourist and industrial expansion. In addition, limestone quarrying may result in the leveling of entire hills. Currently, the species is only known from eight individuals in three localities; therefore, the risk of extinction is extremely high.

Conservation and Recovery

Populations found on privately owned land should be given protection through conservation easements or acquisition. Propagation for introduction into protected areas for the establishment of new populations or enhancement of existing populations should be considered a priority recovery mechanism.


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

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


Center for Plant Conservation. 1992. Report on Rare Plants of Puerto Rico. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1994. "Determination of endangered status for Myrcia paganii and Calyptranthes thomasiana." Federal Register 59 (34): 8138-8141.