The Dominican Republic’s diverse topography and varying climates combine to create the perfect environment for over 6,000 species of thriving flora and fauna, including a high number of endemic species.
Pereskia quisqueyana, commonly known as the Bayahibe rose, is a species of cactus that is endemic to the Dominican Republic and since 2011 it is the Dominican national flower.
Its natural habitat includes subtropical or tropical dry forests that are found on the Southeast coast of Hispaniola; particularly around the town of Bayahibe, its namesake. It is critically endangered due to habitat loss.
Is a dioecious cactus that resembles a shrub and reaches up to 6 metres (20 ft) in height. Its trunk is surrounded by groups of spines which erupt in bunches. Its succulent leaves are elliptical in shape and are a bright green color. The flower of the P. quisqueyana is pink in color and blooms from the ends of its branches. Its fruits are yellow and contain black seeds.
It is one of the most rare cactus because it has leaves, it has a pretty flower and it is a plant that is in danger of extinction and that was on the verge of disappearance. But being a plant that nobody cared about, it has become well cared for by the neighbors and innkeepers of Bayahibe, given that it is a jewel of the unique nature of that area.
People who wish to acquire one, are available at a modest price in the nursery of the National Botanical Garden in Santo Domingo.
- The only known wild population of Bayahibe rose (about eight specimens) is found around the old church of the coastal community.
- Of the genus Pereskia (Neotropical origin) there are about 17 species, five of them in the country. They are usually found in rainfall areas and therefore have leaves, because they do not need to retain as much water as cacti in very dry areas. The Bayahibe rose resembles the Bánica rose.
- In Bayahíbe they call it mata de chele because the fruit has a monedite shape inside, which indicates that the community of Bayahíbe did know populations of females of the plant.
- The petals of the flower usually measure 2.2 centimeters in length.
- The Bayahibe rose, which replaces the mahogany flower as a national flower, will appear in the new paper money editions of the country.