St Helena ebony, Trochetiopsis ebenus
Until 1980, St Helena ebony was thought to be extinct in the wild. Once the dominant forest tree on parts of the island, it survived as just two shrubby specimens clinging to a remote rock-face.
Much of St Helena’s natural vegetation has been decimated by grazing animals and clearance for agriculture and timber.
A volunteer was lowered down the cliff to collect cuttings which were sent back to botanic gardens in the UK for propagation.
Several thousand St Helena ebony plants have been reintroduced at six wild sites on St Helena and their handsome white flowers also grace the islanders’ gardens.
The islanders have been working with Kew to develop propagation protocols for threatened St Helenan plants and to distribute them to other botanic gardens for safe keeping.
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