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Roussea simplex

Restricted to the island of Mauritius, Roussea simplex is a critically endangered shrub or liana that is pollinated by a gecko.
Adult male gecko forages at fruits of Roussea simplex

Adult male gecko forages at fruits of Roussea simplex, using a mixture of licking and chewing at the pulp and swallowing the tiny seeds in the process (Photo: D. M. Hansen)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Roussea simplex Sm.

Common name: 

liane Rousseau (French)

Conservation status: 

Critically Endangered (CR) according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Wet high-altitude forest.

Key Uses: 

Scientific interest; potential ornamental.

Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Roussea

About this species

Roussea simplex is a climbing shrub, or liana, native to the mountain forests of Mauritius, and is considered to be a ‘botanical oddity’. First, it is the only species in the genus Roussea, so if it became extinct we would lose not just a species, but a whole genus and a family of plants. In addition, it has puzzled botanists for many years, because careful study of its form and structure have yielded no clues as to which other plant families it is related to. Recent genetic studies have shed light on this question and placed it close to the Campanulaceae (bellflower family).


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