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Kew's work in the Caribbean island of Montserrat is rescuing special plants, including the native orchid

Kew's conservation programme is helping to save local plants devastated by volcanic eruptions.
Team on expedition in Montserrat (Image: Thomas Heller)

Rescued from the volcano

Many of the villages and forests of Montserrat were devastated by volcanic eruptions in 1997, and the local plant life was heavily damaged too. There are 795 plant species which native to the island; Kew’s UK Overseas Territories team is supporting local partners to protect what is left.

The orchid Epidendrum monserratense is unique to the island of Montserrat. It once grew on the slopes of the island’s volcano but this habitat was destroyed by an eruption. Orchid plants rescued from dead mango trees are now growing in the island’s botanic garden.

Seeds have also come to Kew so that we can study the plant’s life cycle and learn to grow it. Seeds are stored in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.

Home-grown hedges

Kew listens to the needs and concerns of the wider community so we can provide appropriate advice. For example, we recommend local hedging species and give tips on how to grow them. These would replace invasive introduced species which spread easily and smother the special plants found only on Montserrat.

John ‘Gambie’ Martin says “It’s never easy to decide what hedge to plant, but Kew has been holding meetings here to let us know about a native, and very pretty, plant which will provide more homes for wildlife like birds and insects in our gardens.”


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