Pitcairn plant flowers at Kew
By: Marcella Corcoran - 13/04/2011
Although extinct in the wild, Abutilon pitcairnense from Pitcairn has just flowered at Kew Gardens for the first time.
For the first time, Abutilon pitcairnense, unique to Pitcairn Island has flowered at Kew in the Tropical Nursery. The Pitcairn Island group is found in the South Central Pacific and is one of the 16 UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs).
Abutilon pitcairnense at Kew Gardens (Image: RBG Kew)
Thought to be extinct, in 2003 a single plant of Abutilon pitcairnense was re-discovered by local Islander Carol Warren and its identification confirmed by two botanists from Trinity College Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Propagation material (cuttings and seed) were collected from this plant and grown in the island's nursery. By 2004 there were seven successful germinations and several rooted cuttings in Pitcairn.
In 2003 Dr. Noeleen Smyth brought some of the newly rooted cutting material from Pitcairn back to Trinity College Botanic Gardens, Dublin. The species was then secure in ex-situ collections. Unfortunately, in January 2005, a landslide destroyed the only wild plant found and the species became extinct in the wild. Ironically, around the same time the material bought back to Trinity College Dublin flowered for the first time outside of Pitcairn.
Further cuttings were taken from the Trinity collection in 2007 and brought to the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, Glasnevin. These cuttings flowered in the glasshouse at Glasnevin for the first time in January 2010. Cuttings from these plants came to Kew Gardens in January 2010.
From this material, which was only a few centimetres long, plants grew to a height of two metres within ten months and finally flowered in the March of this year (2011). This is just one of the many species from the UKOTs which are growing and flowering here at Kew as part of our conservation programme to germinate and cultivate threatened species from the Territories.
- Marcela -
UKOTs bloggers (left to right): Sara Bárrios, Pat Griggs, Colin Clubbe, Marcella Corcoran, Tom Heller, Martin Hamilton.
Using modern plant specimens collected in the field and historic specimens held in Kew’s Herbarium, together with detailed habitat descriptions and other field information, we are documenting the plant diversity of the UKOTs. We are making this information accessible via the UKOTs Online Herbarium. This resource, together with the field research, enables us to undertake conservation assessments, produce Red Lists of threatened species, and rank potentially invasive species – all of which underpin the development of management plans to protect the UKOTs’ plant heritage.
The UKOTs bloggers are:
- Colin Clubbe (Head of UKOTs and Conservation Training)
- Martin Hamilton (UKOTs Programme Co-ordinator)
- Marcella Corcoran (UKOTs Programme Officer – Horticultural Liaison)
- Sara Bárrios (UKOTs Programme Officer – GSPC Targets 1&2 OTEP Project)
- Pat Griggs (UKOTs Public Engagement Officer)
- Tom Heller (UKOTs Millennium Seed Bank Officer)
- around the world
- the UK
- at risk
- ground breaking
- needs help
- english heritage
- Kew overseas
- verge of extinction
- wet tropics
- gifts that help
- South East Asia
- of use
- hot spot
- english garden
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew