Bonaire and Curaçao boast their very own unique species of palmetto palm thanks to the efforts of Dr Griffith and colleagues from the Montgomery Botanical Centre and CARMABI’s Dr John de Freitas, .
After sixty years in oblivion, the only native palmetto palm on Bonaire and Curaçao has finally received the attention it deserves. Back in 1956 an ‘unidentified species of palm genus Sabal’ was spotted on the limestone terraces to the south of Bonaire and found also on the hills of northern Curaçao. But it took another sixty years for science to acknowledge this as a seperate species and give it a name: Sabal antillensis.
Locally called “Cabana” and “Sabalpalm” these trees can be found in the Christoffel Park and on the western side of Christoffelberg as well as around Lac and to the north of the Cargill property on Bonaire.
Although only just named, Sabal antillensis is already considered “Vulnerable” according to the IUCN Red List criteria due to the small number of mature plants and the fact that its distribution is very restricted. Surveys have shown abundant seed production and identified 196 mature plants but noted ‘great concern’ for the population on Bonaire where it is extremely vulnerable to grazing by free roaming goats.