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Plant story - Erica margaritacea is rescued from extinction

Erica margaritacea was once found on the sandy Cape Flats from the Cape Peninsula to Stellenbosch. Farming and urban development have reduced the natural range of this species to a small area (42 hectares) within the Kenilworth Race Course in Cap

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A. Hitchcock
Erica margaritacea flowers; there are pink and white varieties (Photo: A. Hitchcock)

Plant profile

The specific name ‘margaritacea’ is derived from the Latin meaning ‘pearl’ and refers to its lovely pearl-like flowers.

Erica margaritacea forms an erect shrub to about 50cm tall. It has fine slender branches and small lime-green leaves. Small pearly-white or pink, urn or cup-shaped flowers are borne in clusters near the ends of the branches. Flowering occurs from October to March.

Restoration

Seed was collected in February 2004 and has been processed by the Cape Section of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership in South Africa. Some of the seed is lodged with Kew's Millennium Seed Bank and some has been used as part of a conservation initiative involving restoration of disturbed areas at Kenilworth Race Course, Rondevlei Nature Reserve and on the Table Mountain Park managed land at Tokai.

Ex situ collections are also housed and displayed at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.

Story by Paul Smith (2004) | More plant stories

Get involved - Adopt a Seed, Save a Species

We have successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species and we have set our sights on saving 25% by 2020.

Without plants there could be no life on earth, and yet every day another four plant species face extinction. Too often when we hear these kind of statistics there is little that we can do as individuals, but thanks to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership and the Adopt a Seed, Save a Species campaign there is something that you can do to ensure the survival of a plant species.

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