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Curator, Wertheim Conservatory

Scott Zona is Florida International University’s Conservatory & Greenhouse Curator. He holds a B.S. in horticulture and an M.S. in botany from the University of Florida. His Ph.D. in botany is from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Claremont Graduate University, California. He has explored for plants in Florida, California, Mexico, Central America, Chile, the Caribbean, western Pacific islands, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea and Madagascar. His interests are in the diversity of tropical plants, especially palms, salvias and bryophytes. He has over 150 publications, both scientific and popular, on palms, bryophytes and other tropical plants. Scott co-wrote the second, revised edition of The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms, published in 2012 by Timber Press. Scott is co-editor of the International Palm Society’s quarterly journal, PALMS, and Associate Editor of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 


  • Litter-Trapping Plants
  • Liverworts (Marchantiophyta) of Mahogany Hammock
  • Floral biology and visitors to Salvia arborescens (Lamiaceae)

Litter-Trapping Plants (with M. Christenhusz)

Litter-trapping plants have specialized growth habits and morphologies that enable them to capture falling leaf litter and other debris, which the plants use for nutrition after the litter has decayed. Litter-trappers, both epiphytic and terrestrial, are found throughout the tropics, with only a few extra-tropical species. Litter is trapped via rosettes of leaves, specially modified leaves, and/or upward-growing roots (“root baskets”). Some taxa

impound water (phytotelmata), as well as leaf litter, in overlapping leaves or leaf bases. We identified 575 species of litter-trappers (exclusive of Bromeliaceae), in 35 plant

families, including 10 monocot and 3 fern families, and we expect more species to be identified as the phenomenon becomes more widely studied. This litter mass is also food

and housing for a large variety of commensal organisms (especially, mites, springtails, ants, and termites) and represents a poorly explored habitat for small invertebrates.

Liverworts (Marchantiophyta) of Mahogany Hammock, Everglades National Park, Florida (with J. Sadle)

25°19’23.2”N, 80°49’58.6”W

We surveyed Mahogany Hammock for its liverworts. We collected 27 taxa, from Aneuraceae, Cephaloziaceae, Jubulaceae, Lejeuneaceae, Lepidoziaceae, Plagiochilaceae,

and Radulaceae. The hepatic flora shows strong tropical affinities. One of the most remarkable finds is a species of Telaranea (Lepidoziaceae). Only one species, T.

nematodes, is known from the eastern USA (including Mahogany Hammock), but our species is not that; on-going taxonomic studies will determine the identity of this

mysterious taxon. Despite the presence of the boardwalk in the hammock and damage from two major hurricanes (Donna in 1961, Andrew in 1992), Mahogany Hammock still

supports a rich hepatic flora. Comparing our results with surveys made in 1955 and 1985, we found no evidence for invasion of xerophytic species, as was found for tropical

hardwood hammocks near the coasts. We documented the presence of epiphyllous species.

Floral biology and visitors to Salvia arborescens (Lamiaceae) (with M. Reith)

18°50’25.8”N, 70°43’32.6”W

The phenology, floral biology and floral visitors of Salvia arborescens Urb. & Ekman (Lamiaceae), an endangered species from the Dominican Republic, are reported, based on

field and garden observations. The flowers of S. arborescens are white, fragrant and rich in nectar. Anthesis begins in the late afternoon, and flowers wilt by late morning of the

following day. This species is visited by moths, including the large settling moth Celiptera levinum (Lepidoptera: Noctuoidea: Erebidae), as well as by hummingbirds and

butterflies. This is the first report of a night-blooming, moth-visited Salvia.

Heatubun, C. D., S. Zona, & W. J. Baker. 2014. Three new genera of arecoid palm (Arecaceae) from eastern Malesia. Kew Bulletin. doi: 10.1007/s12225-014-9525-x

Zona, S. & W. J. Baker. 2014. Solfia transferred to Balaka. Palms 58: 191, 192.

Zona, S. & J. Dransfield. 2014. Tuberous roots in Ravenea xerophila. Palms 58: 193–196.

Zona, S.; A. Álvarez de Zayas, R. Orellana Lanza; R. Oviedo; B. Jestrow & J. Francisco-Ortega. 2014. Dracaena L. (Asparagaceae) in the New World: Its history and botany. Vieraea 42: 219–240.

Zona, S. 2015a. Liverworts (Marchantiophyta) of South Florida’s Tropical Hammocks a Century after J. K. Small. Evansia 32: 97–106.

Zona, S. 2015b. The correct gender of Schinus (Anacardiaceae). Phytotaxa 222: 75–77.

Zona, S. & M. J. M. Christenhusz. 2015. Litter-trapping plants: Filter-feeders of the plant kingdom. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 179: 554–586.


Scott Zona

11200 SW 8th St, WC 140

Miami, FL 33199

zonas@fiu.edu - 305-348-1247

FIU International Center for Tropical Botany