On one of Kew's collecting trips to Pakistan, 100 plants of the rare Jasminum leptophyllum were discovered. No other populations are known to local expedition members.
Jasminum leptophyllum Rafiq
Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.
In dry crevices in metamorphic rock.
About this species
This rare and elegant jasmine was discovered recently in Pakistan. It makes a free-standing shrub that bears lovely yellow, scented flowers from mid-late summer.
Geography and distribution
Restricted to the Palas Valley of northern Pakistan, not far from the capital Islamabad, at the western extreme of the Himalaya at 1,500–2,000 m.
From the wild to the garden
Jasminum leptophyllum was recently discovered in a small area of northern Pakistan, the Palas Valley, by a Pakistani botanist, Rubina Rafiq.
In 1995 a team from Kew visited the valley to collect seed, which was germinated successfully at Kew. As part of the agreement with the Pakistani authorities it was agreed that the plants would only be distributed to certain authorised botanic gardens, in accordance with the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
This species is therefore not available commercially at present. However, it can be admired growing happily at Kew, Wakehurst and the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum in Hampshire, and so far it seems to have adapted well to the English climate and can withstand a few degrees of frost.
Jasminum leptophyllum is a much-branched shrub, 1 m high, with dark grey branches. It has narrow evergreen or semi-evergreen dark green leaves, 3 cm long.
The flowers, which appear in mid-late summer, are bright yellow, about 2 cm long, and scented.
The fruit is a black berry.
Threats and conservation
Although Jasminum leptophyllum is not listed on the IUCN Red List, it is potentially at risk due to its small population size. There have been proposals to flood the Palas Valley for a hydro-electric scheme, which would destroy its entire known habitat.
People living in the Palas Valley of Pakistan burn the leaves of Jasminum leptophyllum to repel fleas. However, members of the Kew expedition to Pakistan did not find this practice to deter the voracious fleas at all!
Jasminum leptophyllum is cultivated as an ornamental at Kew, Wakehurst and the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum in Hampshire and has the potential to be more widely grown.
Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in Kew's seed bank vault at Wakehurst.
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: One
Germination testing: 75% germination was achieved on a 1% agar medium, at a temperature of 20°C, on a cycle of 8 hours daylight/16 hours darkness.
Jasminum leptophyllum is propagated from seed or cuttings.
This species at Kew
There is a specimen of Jasminum leptophyllum growing just inside Elizabeth Gate at Kew, and others in the Rock Garden and against various warm walls in the garden. It can also be seen at Wakehurst.
Pressed and dried specimens of Jasminum leptophyllum are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment.
Curtis's Botanical Magazine
Now well over 200 years old, the Magazine is the longest running botanical periodical featuring colour illustrations of plants. Each four-part volume contains 24 plant portraits reproduced from watercolour originals by leading international botanical artists. Detailed but accessible articles combine horticultural and botanical information, history, conservation and economic uses of the plants described.
Published for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by Blackwell Publishing.
Green, P. & Miller, D. (2009). The Genus Jasminum in Cultivation. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Rafiq, R. A. (1996). Three new species from Palas Valley, District Kohistan, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan. Novon 6(3): 295-297.
Sinnott, M., Rafiq, R. & Green, P. (2000). Jasminum leptophyllum (Oleaceae). Curtis’s Bot. Mag. 17(1): 29-34.
The Plant List (2010). Jasminum leptophyllum. Available online (accessed 10 June 2011).
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2010). Jasminum leptophyllum. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Available online (accessed 10 June 2011)
Kew Science Editor: Martyn Rix
Kew contributors: Steve Davis (Sustainable Uses Group)
Copyediting: Malin Rivers
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