Asufro as part of the exposition at Fort Zoutman
Two small plants and a compilation of pictures of Asufro (Pereskia guamacho) presently make part of an exhibition at the historical museum Fort Zoutman. The exhibition is placed for the royal visit of Prince William Alexander to Aruba in past April. Department of Agriculture, Husbandry and Fisheries (DLVVM) focuses on Asufro as CARMABI foundation (Curaçao) has last year internationally declared this plant as a new specie for the flora of Aruba in the Caribbean Journal of Science. Thereby mentioning that DLVVM keeps voucher specimens in a herbarium. Asufro is a member of Cactaceae, the family of cacti, as if the plant people make cactus hedges of on Aruba. Unlike the more common known cactus, Asufro has a more defined stem with branches and it has leaves. However, the thorns are like cacti and the stem peels off just like the cactus. The plant has yellow flowers and it blooms in April/May, in the dry season, when it sheds all its leaves. The plant is present in Colombia and Isla Margarita, Venezuela, specifically in the arid coastal areas.
The international announcement of the presence of Asufro in the Aruban flora is important for botanists who studies vegetation developments. Specifically those botanists who are interested in the different variations of the same specie now know that specimens are available in Aruba. Since 1977 DLVVM knew that Asufro was present in the local flora, but nobody has announce it internationally. Furthermore, Stoffers among other botanists has studied the flora of Aruba, but never mentioned this specie to be present in the flora of Aruba. The existing specimens of Asufro are old big trees, not easy to overlook. This stresses the necessity for botanical research on regular basis to discover new species and to check on the status of present species. Interesting to know is that Frere Arnoldo, the author of a huge description of the flora of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, mentioned that Curaçao imported Asufro around 1850. In Curaçao Asufro solely lives in tree gardens. On the other hand, the three Asufros on Aruba live in National Park Arikok, which is a natural area. There are no historical data known of the import of Asufro in Aruba and some species like Palo di Boonchi (Erythrina velutina) are indigenous to Aruba but imported into the adjacent islands. Asufro is a unique plant for Aruba and there are only three specimen left in its original habitat. Therefore, a preliminary list of plants to be protected in a resolution under the Nature Protection Ordinance of 1995, also mentions Asufro. DLVVM has, as a protection measure, a few small plants of the Asufro at sale in prevention of a complete disappearance of this plant on Aruba. Although it is preferable that the specie multiplies in its own habitat as this has proven to be its living place.
The Department of Agriculture, Husbandry and Fisheries (DLVVM), specifically the section of Nature Management promotes the maintenance of a vital population of the Aruban flora, through cultivation of indigenous trees and selling these to the public. So therefore DLVVM has also some yearlings of the Wayaca tree for sale at Piedra Plat 114 A between the Protestant Church and the Piedra Plat traffic bridge.
For more information call +297 585 6473 or email Department of Agriculture, Husbandry and Fisheries directly.
[Information courtesy of Mr. Facundo Franken of the Department of Agriculture, Husbandry and Fisheries (DLVVM) - Nature Management]