Kew's UK Overseas Territories team collaborates with the Bermuda Ministry of Public Works through its Department of Conservation Services on plant conservation activities.
Progress in implementing the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation Targets
Please use the links below to see further details on conservation activities in the UK Overseas Territories
Site published by
UK Overseas Territories Science Team, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Please cite as
UKOTs Online Herbarium (2011). Published on the internet at http://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/UKOT (date accessed).
For further information
Please contact Kew UKOTs Team
Thought to have been discovered by Juan de Bermudez in 1505, the fishhook shaped Bermuda Archipelago lies approximately 500 miles south east of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, USA. The sub-tropical climate is maintained by the Gulf Stream and the Azores High. Bermuda is made up of over 100 islands, the seven largest of which are connected by bridges and causeways, but the Territory has a total land mass of just 54 Km². The islands sit on a thick (about 100 m) limestone cap which covers an undersea volcanic mountain, thus the soils are very porous.
Bermuda's native and endemic flora has originated from plant material transported by wind, sea and birds from mainland USA and the West Indies. Consequently, around 80% of Bermuda's native terrestrial flora can also be found in southern Florida and in the West Indies islands. Many plants found on Bermuda are at the extreme limits of their geographic range with the most northerly mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) in the world thriving here. Bermuda also holds a sub-population of yellow wood (Zanthoxylum flavum), a species whose natural distribution is throughout the Caribbean and in Florida. Yellow wood has been classified as 'Vulnerable' by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to heavy exploitation for timber. The loss of the sub-population of this species on Bermuda would decrease the species extent of occurrence worldwide. When first discovered, forests dominated by the endemic Bermuda cedar (Juniperus bermudiana) and Bermuda palmetto (Sabal bermudana) and other native species such as the yellow wood (Zanthoxylum flavum) covered Bermuda's landmass. The understory was also dominated by endemics such as the Bermuda sedge (Carex bermudiana) and Bermuda maidenhair fern (Adiantum bellum). However, after colonisation by the English in 1612 the islands were quickly exploited, with endemic and native flora being decimated by habitat destruction and later through human introduction of exotic species.
Bermuda cedar was the most heavily exploited species because of its attractive wood for furniture and ship building. Consequently commercial export was banned in 1657. This species suffered a further blow when the cedar scale (Carulaspis minima) was accidentally introduced to Bermuda in 1940-42 via importation of an ornamental species of juniper, resulting in 99% of the population being wiped out by 1971. The species is now making a very slow comeback thanks to propagation and replanting from resistant cedars.
Original text by Shayla Ellick (UKOTs Sandwich Student 2010/2011); edited by the UKOTs team
© Copyright Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Right Margin Images:
1. The unique Sabal bermudana (Arecaceae), an endemic palm known as Bermuda palmetto.
2. The endemic and very rare Carex bermudiana (Cyperaceae); know as the Bermuda sedge.
3. Sisyrinchium bermudiana (Iridaceae), endemic and considered the national flower of Bermuda.
4. Cassine laneana (Celastraceae), an endemic evergreen tree commonly called Bermuda Olivewood.
5. The rare Phaseolus lignosus (Leguminosae), commonly called Bermuda bean.