Toromiro tree gets reprieve
The extinct toromiro tree has received a new lease on life thanks to a global, collaborative project between the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Australia and Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada.
Seeds stored in the Conservation Seedbank at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria for more than15 years were in 2017 sent to Montreal Botanical Garden. Horticulturalists in Montreal have now successfully grown six young trees from these seeds.
“Montreal Botanical Garden approached us because we hold perhaps the greatest genetic diversity of toromiro on earth today”, explains Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
“This is yet another example of a Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria program helping to conserve plants in light of the many threats facing them. Indeed, we recently hosted representatives of botanic gardens from five continents to build an alliance to help combat the threats today.”
As with the collections on display at Melbourne Gardens, Montreal Botanical Garden will use these specimens as part of a wider education program to teach visitors about plant conservation.
Toromiro (Sophora toromiro) became extinct on the island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). it was completely eradicated in the 1960s as a result of extensive deforestation. It is now listed as Extinct in the Wild on the IUCN Red List and persists only through the work of botanic gardens across the world.
Seedbanks are an important resource in botanical collections worldwide. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Conservation Seedbank has contributed to the conservation efforts of many Australian native plants in the Victorian region. The Victorian Rare and Threatened Species Collection in Melbourne Gardens is made exclusively from the seedbank collection.