Cabbage trees, Dendroseris litoralis
Robinson Crusoe’s role model, Alexander Selkirk, supplemented his diet with cabbage tree leaves when he was marooned on the Juan Fernández Islands in the eighteenth century.
More recently, marauding goats proved to be a much greater threat, reducing the population to just three surviving cabbage trees by the 1980s.
Seeds collected from cabbage trees were sent to the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place. Seeds survive for longer when stored in a cold dry seed bank.
Ten healthy seedlings were raised in the nursery in 2000. One of these plants flowered and produced seed in 2004.
Cuttings and air-layers from the cabbage trees are being grown on at Kew to form part of a conservation-focussed display in one of the public glasshouses.
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