Zanthoxylum paniculatum Balf. fil. (Rutaceae), A proposal for rare plant rescue, 2004 PDF

The island of Rodrigues lies 574km east of Mauritius at 63° 30'E, 19° 40' S (Strahm 1996), in the western Indian Ocean. With Mauritius and Reunion it forms the Mascarenes group; a trio of young volcanic islands, the oldest of which has been dated to 7.8MY by potassium argon dating (McDougall et al 1965, in Strahm 1996). Rodrigues, the youngest at 1.5MY, is also the smallest and driest of the three islands. Approximately the same size as the UK Channel Island of Jersey, Rodrigues covers an area of 109 sq km, reaches 393m in height, and has a mean coastal temperature of 24°C (75.2 °F) (Strahm 1996). Today the population depends largely on subsistence farming and fishing, with tourism playing a far less significant role in the economy than is found with the island's neighbour, Mauritius. The hillsides are dominated by steep terraces used to grow maize, chillies, citrus and root vegetables, or are grazed by pigs, sheep, goats and cattle, the sparsely vegetated hills occasionally inter- rupted by clumps of screwpine (Pandanus heterophylla), particularly on the dry south eastern flanks. Despite the extreme degradation of the island's vegeta- tion since its colonisation by humans in the 16th century, six endemic genera and 145 indigenous species (of which 49 are endemic) still survive in Rodrigues (MWF 2005).

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