Libocedrus chevalieri Buchh.

Cupressaceae

One of three species of Libocedrus which is endemic to New Caledonia where it has a very narrow distribution

Description

Habit

Spreading shrub or small tree 2–5m tall, monoecious; usually multistemmed. Bark coarse and scaly, exfoliating in thin irregular strips or plates, brown. Branches many, ascending, forming a dense, bushy, often rounded crown.

Foliage

Forming dense sprays, slightly flattened, 3–4 wide. Leaves arranged in opposite pairs at right angles to those above or below with the facial (central) and laterial pairs almost equal in size, 2.5–5 x 2–2.5mm, light green, sometimes reddish brown when older.

Cones

Male pollen-cones terminal, solitary, 8–10 x 2.5–3.5mm, cylindrical, yellowish green, light brown when mature. Female seed-cones terminal, borne on branchlets with leaves of similar shape and size; bract-scales, the upper pair 10–14 x 5–7mm, the lower, smaller pair 10–12 x 3–4mm; seeds 1–-2, ovoid–oblong, flattish, apex acute, yellowish brown, with two opposite, unequal, membranous wings.

Distribution

Endemic to to New Caledonia on Grande Terre. Known only from the summits of Mt Humboldt and Mt Kouakoué in the southern part of Grande Terre. A third, very disjunct locality on the summit of Mt Ton Non (650m) in Province Nord has been recorded based on specimens collected in the late 1970s (Farjon, 2005). Since this date no further collections have been made from the location and therefore the locality has been excluded from this assessment.

Habitat and Ecology

This species grows in high-altitude maquis shrubland at altitudes of 1,450 to 1,600m

Conservation Status

Global assessment

Critically Endangered B1ab(iii)

Global rationale

Libocedrus chevalieri is assessed as Critically Endangered as its extent of occurrence is estimated to be 22km², it is only known from two nearby mountain summits, which here are classified as a single one location and there is a decline in the quality of its habitat due to increasing frequency of fire.

Global threats

Accidental fires are a serious risk throughout its range. Climate change impacts could also be significant as this species is restricted to summit areas.

Conservation Actions

The two sites are in protected botanical reserves areas although mining in one of these (Mont Kouakoué) is not forbidden.