Pinus caribaea var. caribaea

Pinaceae

Endemic to Cuba where logging and conversion of the habitat to pasture-land are the main threats

Associated Names:

Caribbean pine and pitch pine

Distribution

Endemic in western Cuba in the province of Pinar del Río and Isla de la Juventud [Isla de Pinos]. The population is relatively small compared to the other varieties but figures of numbers of trees are not available. There are two subpopulations, separated by sea.

Habitat and Ecology

Forming pure, open, dry fire-climax forest or open woodland with undergrowth of grasses or scattered shrubs on sandy or gravelly, well-drained, acidic soils. Altitudinal range from 1–700m above sea level, with most extensive stands below 40m. The growing is season continuous in a warm tropical climate with long dry spells. Annual precipitation varies mainly with altitude, between ca. 1000–1800mm, with a winter dry season.

Human Uses

The timber is used for building purposes.

Conservation Status

Global status

Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,v)

Global rationale

The extent of occurrence falls within the threshold for Vulnerable, but the area of occupancy, calculated on the basis of comprehensive sampling of herbarium collections (26 collections representing 19 localities), works out as 475km² even with a grid width of 5km per dot, which is probably too optimistic. There is no doubt about a continuing decline. This variety therefore meets the criteria for Endangered.

Global threats

Logging and conversion to pasture have reduced the population in several areas, especially on the mainland of Cuba. This pine is being replaced by Pinus tropicalis due to more frequent fires; the latter species is better adapted to this due to a “grass stage” in the seedling phase.

Conservation Actions

Protection should consist of preserving this species in its habitat, by preventing man-caused fires and reducing the pressure or frequency of logging.