The coastal and hilly sectors of NE Sicily and the Aeolian Archipelago have been explored, in order to obtain up-to-date information on the distribution of the populations of Chamaerops humilis and on their site conditions. In addition to the field surveys, any local toponym possibly related to the Sicilian vernacular names of the dwarf palm was checked and verified throughout the investigat- ed area. The total absence of the species along the coasts of Nebrodi Massif is confirmed. Of the 9 extant populations, 4 are located on the Aeolian Islands, 2 along the Ionian coast and 3 along the Tyrrhenian coast of Peloritani Mountains: among them, the one of Capo Calavà represents a new record. The co-occurrence of centuries-long human disturbance and several forms of envi- ronmental stresses could be the reason for the relict connotation of most of the considered popu- lations, which also are very discontinuous and consisting of small patches formed by a few indi- viduals, in simplified and species-poor assemblages, mostly found on sea-facing rocky cliffs. On the other hand, the recent spread of Chamaerops humilis in Lipari could be related to the aban- donment of agricultural practices. Finally, the naturalisation cases recorded in Milazzo, Tindari, Panarea, Scaletta Zanclea and Taormina, where the dwarf palm escaped from public and private gardens, point out the urgent need of regulating its introduction, in order to avoid the genetic pol- lution of the autochthonous populations.
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|