From March 23 to March 29 of 2018 Fred Stauffer is visiting the world-class palm botanical garden Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) in Miami, Florida. In the frame of this visit many interesting Hyphaene species are being sampled for molecular phylogenetic analyses that will be undertaken in Geneva. All these palms have been collected from wild populations in several countries (i.e. Burkina Faso, Botswana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Namibia) that won’t be visited in the frame of our project. Early September of the last year Montgomery Botanical Center was badly hit by the Hurricane Irma, an extremely powerful and catastrophic  hurricane, known to be the strongest observed in the Atlantic in terms of maximum sustained winds since Wilma, and the strongest storm on record to exist in the open Atlantic region. Many interesting palms at MBC could not support the strong winds that hit Southern Florida, some of them reaching almost 290 km/h.Here some breathtaking views of some areas of this magnificent garden.

One of the main objectives of our visit to MBC is to sample silica-dried material for our molecular phylogenetic studies. So far we have been able to collect 15 different individuals corresponding to three different species. Countries represented include Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenia. MBC hosts one of the richest Hyphaene palm collections. The palm that I am here collecting is Hyphaene coriacea collected in Madagascar.

Did you believe that peacocks were exclusive of the Botanical Garden of Geneva?, not at all. At Montgomery Botanical Center a whole bunch of them is permanently hanging around and looking for the fresh  shadow offered by the palm leaves. At mid-day temperatures at MBC almost reached 28 °C.

Between March 5 and March 8 (2007) we have been visiting the herbaria of Lisbon (LISC, LISU) and the herbarium of Coimbra, all of them hosting important Hyphaene collections from former Portuguese colonies in Africa, in particular material sampled in Angola, Guinea Bissau, and Mozambique (also some collections from Sao Tomé and Principe). During the last years of the '70, the Indian botanist (although with clear Portuguese roots!) Caetano Xavier Furtado, based his monographic study on Hyphaene in the Lisbon herbaria. All the Hyphaene material stored in this herbarium has been identified by Furtado himself. Cristina Duarte, Luis Catarino and in particular Paula Branco are greatly thanked for their kind support to my visit to LISC, whereas Ana Isabel de Vasconcelos Correia and Alexandra Lucas hosted my visit to LISU. In Coimbra, Fátima Sales, Joaquim Santos and kindly made available the interesting specimens stored at COI.

This is the Tropical Botanic Garden, located in Belém, about 10 minutes drive from downtown Lisbon. The garden was created in 1906 with the main goal of training agronomists and technicians for the former Portuguese colonies in Africa. It is jointly managed by the Museum of Natural History and Science and the Botanical Garden. We could identify many palm species (i.e. Bismarkia nobilis, Chamaedorea sp., Howea sp.,  Phoenix canariensis, Phoenix reclinata, Washingtonia filifera).

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