Serianthes nelsonii only occurs in Rota and Guam. Guam has one lone mature, seed producing tree. Rota has more than 30 mature trees in the wild. Serianthes grown from Rota seeds are more vigorous than trees grown from Guam seed. Joe Tuquero, Goro, and Mario recently came back from a trip to collect DNA samples from Rota trees for comparison with Guam samples.
The first day the crew met with James Manglona from Rota Forestry and toured their nursery and some of the outplanted trees. James was a huge help in locating and sharing his knowledge of Serianthes in Rota. Samples were collected from wild trees and trees that they have outplanted. Only a few leaves were needed from each tree and James fashioned a long leaf picking device for the crew to be able to reach into the canopies of these trees.
The Guam tree is 21.2 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet and 27 feet tall. Almost all of the wild trees in Rota are larger in diameter and height. The largest Rota tree visited was 48 inches in diameter at 6 feet and 84 feet tall!
We would like to thank the CNMI division of USFWS and CNMI Forestry for allowing us to visit the Serianthes in Rota. We would also like to thank James Manglona and Joaquin Fujihara for their help in the field, without them our efforts would have been unsuccessful.