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.