Help us save Madagascan wing-fruited coffee
Discovered on a Kew expedition on the island of Madagascar, Coffea pterocarpa, the Madagascan wing-fruited coffee, is one of the most bizarre-looking of all coffee species. You can help Kew safeguard this plant for our future by adopting a seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.
Madagascan wing-fruited coffee (Coffea pterocarpa) was discovered on a Kew expedition to Madagascar in 2000 and is one of the most bizarre-looking species of coffee, owing to its yellow winged fruits. The wings make the fruits more visible to animals, such as lemurs, which disperse the seeds. The fruits of this plant species are also adapted to water-dispersal, as they float very well, unlike most other coffee species which sink in water.
Madagascan wing-fruited coffee (Coffea pterocarpa) is known only from the Namoroka area, in western Madagascar, where fewer than ten plants were found. It is possible that it may be found elsewhere in Namoroka, although the total area of the reserve is only 220 km², with suitable habitat considerably less.
Madagascar is a globally important biodiversity hotspot facing huge difficulties with conservation. The flora is poorly known and there are estimated to be over 12,000 plant species in this region. Most of these species are found only in Madagascar (endemic) and many have restricted distributions with small populations.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and with the latest political turmoil and a failing economy the outlook for the regions biodiversity is bleak. The need for conservation and sustainable development is greater than ever.
Coffee farming supports more than 25 million farming families in around 50 countries, but commercial cultivars are already being influenced by climate change. Kew is studying the effects of climate change on coffee and undertaking research to support wild coffee conservation. Understanding the potential use of wild coffee species could help commercial production and the supply of coffee in the future, particularly in terms of combating pests and diseases and adaptation to environmental change.
Protecting the Itremo region
Working with local communities, Kew is creating a 265 km2 protected area in the Itremo region of central Madagascar.
Since we started our work there, over 400 plant species have been recorded, with 10% unique to the area, together with 67 bird species, 28 reptile species (including nine chameleon species) and three species of lemur.
This stunning quartz plateau has huge marble and granite outcrops and is home to one of the world’s rarest orchids, such as Angraecum longicalcar, which is down to just 12 individual plants in the wild. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is aiming to conserve 70% of Madagascar’s threatened orchids as part of the countries contribution to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation targets.
Making Itremo a protected area means engaging and working with local communities. Included in the area are buffer zones that allow communities to continue to collect food and fuel-wood.
While the new protected areas system is a tremendous achievement, we also recognise the significance of the remaining 90% of the land and where the largest proportion of Madagascar’s biodiversity is still to be found.
Kew’s focus over the next decade is to develop conservation strategies with local communities to safeguard the flora and remaining natural vegetation in unprotected areas. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is a key strategy and the aim is to bank over 25% of Madagascar’s flora by 2020.
You can adopt this seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.
When you Adopt a Seed, you'll receive a personalised certificate, featuring your plant species, as a downloadable PDF document you can print off, and regular updates over the year from the Millennium Seed Bank.
For an additional £2, you can have an Adoption Pack posted (either to you, or direct to a gift recipient) featuring a certificate and a full colour picture of your species (UK only).
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