Thursday, July 10, 2014

Under the Mistletoe: The Hunt for Dendropemon caymanensis

Cayman Islands Government
Department of Environment

July 9, 2014

The Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE) recently collaborated on a project with longtime partner Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (RGB Kew), UK, to locate a mysterious Mistletoe species Dendropemon caymanensis known to be located only on Little Cayman. There is very little known about this parasitic plant but records from botanist George Proctor, author of the “Flora of the Cayman Islands”, indicate that it is possibly located within the North Eastern interior of Little Cayman and is a parasite of the Headache Bush (Capparis cynophallophora) and the Black Candlewood (Erithalis fruticosa). No one has seen this plant since 1991 and there is no photographic record – just a single herbarium collection as proof of its existence.

In order to find this plant, the DOE and RGB Kew used a mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The UAV is a small flying machine with a camera; it weighs less than a kilogram (2 lbs) and is controlled by a sophisticated remote computer system. It takes aerial photographs on a pre-programmed course mapped out using a GPS coordinates. Read the whole story here.

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