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Glossy-leaved gardenia Gardenia nitida

This small gardenia tree is one of the rarest in Burkina Faso. After four hours of walking in temperatures of 35 C, the Millennium Seed Bank collecting team succeeded in finding only five individuals growing in dense forest along a 2 km stretch of the Comoe river.

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership Burkina Faso team had been looking for glossy-leaved gardenia (Gardenia nitida) in West Africa for some time - it is rare that a habitat is not well known.

It is a small tree, about 1.5-2 m tall, with smooth bark. The flowers are white, turning golden yellow and the oblong fruits are hard and woody.

Many of the vulnerable species in West Africa are ecologically located in the semi-dry buffer zones between the Sahara desert in the north and the sub-humid, tropical forests in the south.

The first herbarium specimens were collected in 1997 during a botanical exploration, organised jointly by the Ouagadougou University and the Floristic Centre of Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, through its African partners, has began using its expertise in seed handling and germination to support local, government and NGO-led tree propagation and planting schemes. Nearly 62,000 tree seedlings were produced and planted through this initiative during 2010.

In Mali, tree seedlings were planted in village woodlands, sacred forests, schools and home gardens to mark the 50th anniversary of independence. In Ghana the seedlings were planted in cocoa farms.

Some schemes resulted in certain tree species, including the glossy-leaved gardenia, being cultivated for the first time. Other species included Securidaca longepedunculata, Erythrina senegalensis, Garcinia kola, Tetrapleura tetraptera, species of Terminalia and Spondias mombin.

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