Juniperus barbadensis L.

Cupressaceae

Endemic to the Caribbean in the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica and St Lucia where threats include logging, fire and urbanisation

Associated Names:

West Indes juniper

Distribution

Juniperus barbadensis is endemic to the Caribbean where it is distributed in the Bahamas (5 islands), Cuba (2 locations), Jamaica (1 location) and St Lucia (1 location).

J. barbadensis var barbadensis is confined to a single location on St. Lucia although it is thought to have previously been more common all along the southwestern coast of the island. Currently it is limited to a few trees situated at the top of the Petit Piton. It is extinct on Barbados.

J. barbadensis var. lucayana occurs in the Bahamas on the following islands: Great Abaco, Andros, Grand Bahama. In Cuba it is currently recorded from Camagüey (Cayo Sabinal), Holguín (Sierra de Nipe) and Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Río (Sabanalamar), (Areces-Mallea, 1997; Adams, 1989), however it is thought to only be extant in the latter two locations (Adams, 1989). In Jamaica 15-20 trees grow in St Andrew Parish near to Clydesdale (Adams, 1989; pers. obs.) where it has an extent of occurance of 30km². It is now extinct on Haiti.

Habitat and Ecology

Occurs from sea level to 1600m in a range of forest types depending on the country. In Cuba it is found in ‘bosque aciculifolio’ forest which is characterised as having about 30% forest cover dominated by Pinus spp. with evergreen trees and associated shrubs and herbaceous plants but very few epiphytes and climbers (Berazaín, 2005). In contrast, on the Isle of Pines off the south coast of Cuba, it grows in forest swamps. In the Bahamas it is found in coppices on rocky slopes. On St Lucia it grows on rocky outcrops (volcanic origin) in deciduous seasonal forest (Graveson, 2009) 30m below the summit of a coastal mountain at an altitude of ca 700m. Associated species include: the endemic Bernardia laurentii (sole location) and occasional small gnarled trees bent by the wind such as Capparis indica, Casearia decandra, Daphnopsis americana, Erithalis odifera, Krugiodendron ferreum, Tabebuia heterophylla. Non-woody species include: Agave caribaeicola, Peperomia magnoliifolia, Pitcairnia angustifolia, Tillandsia fasciculata and T. utriculata.

Human Uses

In Jamaica it is often used in furniture making due to its attractive wood and its excellent insect-repellant properties.

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable C2a(i)

Global rationale

Juniperus barbadensis has a wide distribution in the northern Caribbean, in about two restricted sites in Cuba, on five islands in northern part of the Bahamas and in one site on St Lucia in the southern Caribbean. Due to the nature of this distribution, particularly that in the Lucayan Archipelago of the Bahamas, it is not possible to give an accurate figure for the area of occupancy. Despite its protection in several locations, it is clearly in decline throughout its distribution mainly as a result of fire and urbanization. As the total population is estimated to be less than 10000 individuals with no subpopulation containing more than 1000 individuals, it has been assessed as Vulnerable under C2a(i).

Global threats

Exploitation for fuel wood and timber throughout its distribution; in Cuba fire is also a threat. In the Blue Mountains of Jamaica the species is under pressure from a number of threats including potential damage from bark beetle, selective cutting of old-growth trees although this illicit practise has been stopped in the Cinchona area since 1994 by the park authorities (Goodland & Healey, 1996). However, now that there are gaps in the canopy this can cause serious encroachment problems with invasion non-native species such as Pittosporum undulatum (Goodland & Healey, 1996). In the Bahamas there has been a reduction of some stands due to urbanisation.

Conservation Actions

In the Bahamas it is afforded protection in a number of National Parks which are admninistered by the Bahamas National Trust. In Jamaica stands are within the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. In St Lucia the only location for J. barbadensis var barbadensis is protected in an UNESCO World Heritage Site