Study of Hyphaene in the Montgomery Botanical Center (Miami, USA) - January 2017

We are studying the Hyphaene collection at the Montgomery Botanical Center in Miami. Between January 22 and January 28 (2017) we are carefully carrying out studies on the four species therein cultivated (H. compressa, H. coriacea, H. petersiana and Hyphaene thebaica). This work is largely supported by Patrick Griffith, Larry Noblick, Jessica Sparks, Joanna Tucker Lima and Claudia Calonje. We have been able to benefit from all facilities at the lab and the living collection. Sampling of the palms includes material for anatomical studies, leaf fragments for DNA analyses and dry leaves for the study of phytolits (project with the Universidad Nacional of Colombia).

The Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) has one of the finest palm collections in the world. Locating the Hyphaene individuals was easy thanks to the very well curated database of the collection, in which every single individual is georeferenced.

 The palm landscapes are just breathtaking. So many different palm genera and species concentrated in only one botanical garden is just amazing. Any palm researcher receives a VIP treatment when studying the palms of this collection. The study of the morphological diversity of the four Hyphaene species growing in the garden was very important for our current revision of the genus.

These male and female clumps of Hyphaene coriacea were studied in the frame of our project. The male inflorescence of one of these individuals was collected and studied in the MBC lab. The seeds of these palms were originally collected in Madagascar

Usually many infructescences  are present on a same individual, giving a very informative picture on their development. In this case a ripe infructescence of Hyphaene thebaica is depicted. The seed of this palm was collected in the West African country of Burkina Faso.

By the end of the afternoon and while studying some individuals of Medemia argun, regarded by some studies as the sister group of Hyphaene, we were joined by a very impressive peacock

 Detail of the polymorphic fruits of Hyphaene coriacea. The seeds of this palm were collected in Madagascar by Larry Noblick, head palm researcher at the Montgomery Botanical Center.

During our second worikng day in MBC we started to collect samples in the field and study them in the lab. The big surface available in the lab was very important to study the bulky material in a very comfortable way. Thanks Jessica for sharing your space!.

Interesting material starts to accumulate. In this image are displayed some of our samples. From left to right: fruits of different species of Hyphaene, male rachillae at different stages of development, leaf fragments in Hyphaene, Medemia and Borassus.

We spent some time studying in detail the sequence of development of the male rachillae thoughout the inflorescence. The species depicted in Hyphaene coriacea

Today we studied the rich collection of Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden. Chad Husby kindly provided a list of all species of Hyphaene cultivated in the garden and the exact plots where to get them. We were able to describe and sample (DNA) for the 4 species present there (H. coriacea, H. dichotoma. H. petersiana and H. thebaica)

Several male and female clumps of Hyphaene dichotoma were studied. This was critical for the project as we have not had the chance so far to see a living individual of this palm. We described this palm on site and sampled several clumps for the DNA analyses.