Ternstroemia Subsessilis

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Ternstroemia subsessilis

No Common Name

ListedApril 22, 1992
FamilyTheaceae (Tea)
DescriptionA tropical tree.
HabitatTropical rainforest.
ThreatsHabitat destruction and degradation by forestry activities.
RangePuerto Rico


Ternstroemia subsessilis is an evergreen tree reaching 59 ft (18 m) in height. Its leaves are arranged in alternate fashion along the stems, and are thick, leathery, wide at the middle, and pointed at both ends. The leaves are up to 4 in (10 cm) long and about 1/3 as wide. The underside of the leaf has numerous black spots. The flowers are showy, about 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter, and have five white-or cream-colored petals. The fruits are an ovoid capsule terminated by a persistent style. The seeds are red and about 0.1 in (3 mm) in length.


T. subsessilis occurs in humid tropical rainforest. Locally, its lowland forest type is known as palo colorado, and its montane habitat as dwarf forest.


T. subsessilis is an endemic (or locally evolved) species that is only known from the Luquillo Mountains of northeastern Puerto Rico.


T. subsessilis is threatened by forestry practices such as the clear-cutting of native forest and establishment of plantations, selective cutting, trail and road construction and maintenance, and the construction of buildings and communication facilities. Because of the extreme rarity and limited range of the ternstroemia, it is also vulnerable to natural catastrophes such as hurricanes. Two of its historical populations are no longer present because of habitat destruction. Only six individuals in four locations, three of which are in the colorado forest type and one in the dwarf forest of Pico del Este, were known to survive in the early 1990s.

Conservation and Recovery

All known sites of T. subsessilis occur within the Caribbean National Forest, managed by the U. S. Forest Service. The rare tree and its natural habitat must be strictly protected from any further damage caused by forestry or other activities. This can be done by incorporating protective criteria into management plans for the Caribbean National Forest. The rare tree should be propagated in captivity to produce stock for out-planting into suitable habitat to supplement the extremely sparse wild population.


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

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


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 22 April 1992. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Determination of Endangered Status for Five Puerto Rican Trees." Federal Register 57(78): 14782-14785.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. November 1992. "U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species, Species Account: Ternstroemia subsessilis (No Common Name)." U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program. (http://endangered.fws.gov/i/q/saq8e.html). (July 6, 2000).