Plant story - last wild population of Cylindrophyllum hallii saved from extinction
A wild population of a long-lost species was discovered during a routine seed collecting trip in South Africa. This plant species had not been documented or collected since 1960.
Single plant of the threatened C. hallii (Photo: Paul Smith, RBG Kew)
In early 2001, whilst out collecting other plants, Kew's Millennium Seed Bank team found a population of C. hallii. There were about 220 plants, but with clear signs of predation. Many dead plants were victims of drought or grazing by animals. Luckily seed from the remaining healthy plant fruit capsules was in ample supply and the team were able to collect capsules from some 85 plants very safely, taking less than 5% of what was available thereby not damaging the wild population.
All 220 plants have now died
When the site was revisited in 2002, all the plants in this population were found to be dead. Another, small population of only six individuals was found nearby. This is exactly the kind of plant species that needs ex situ conservation - down to only one small population and severely threatened.
Saved at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank
Staff at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank have successfully grown seed into many new plants. Propagation protocols are available for South African nature conservation authorities and seed is available for reintroduction.
- See the full story in Samara Issue 1
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.