Dendroseris neriifolia – one of the rarest trees in the world
One of the most rare trees in the world is Dendroseris neriifolia. There are known only two trees, both growing in eroded ravine – Quebrada Lápiz – in the eastern part of Robinson Crusoe Island.
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Relatives of sunflowers
Robinson Cruzoe Island rose above the sea level some 3.8 – 4.2 million years ago. Since then here has evolved unique plant and animal life – f.e. the forest on Robinson Crusoe Island has only endemic tree species – the trees of this forest do not grow anywhere else!
Some of these trees belong to the genus Dendroseris. These plants are relatives of sunflowers, from Asteraceae family – but are growing only on the islands of Juan Fernández archipelago. These plants are trees or shrubs, with rare branches, adorned with rosettes of elongated leaves. The species of genus are very diverse and sometimes scientists have considered that these plants belong to four different genus.
There are 11 species of this genus on the islands – all are rare:
- Dendroseris berteroana – Robinson Crusoe Island. Species always has been very rare,
- Dendroseris gigantea – Alejandro Selkirk Island. Only one sample survives in the wild!
- Dendroseris litoralis – Robinson Crusoe Island, Santa Clara Island. Once very common in lowland forest of Robinson Crusoe Island. At one moment in the 1980s only 3 plants remained. Beautiful orange flowers. Some plants are grown in local gardens.
- Dendroseris macrantha – Robinson Crusoe Island
- Dendroseris macrophylla – Alejandro Selkirk Island
- Dendroseris marginata – Robinson Crusoe Island
- Dendroseris micrantha – Robinson Crusoe Island
- Dendroseris neriifolia – Robinson Crusoe Island
- Dendroseris pinnata – Robinson Crusoe Island. Beautiful, palm-like tree.
- Dendroseris pruinata – Robinson Crusoe Island and Santa Clara Island, once very common in lowland forests
- Dendroseris regia – Alejandro Selkirk Island
Dendroseris neriifolia is large tree (if allowed to grow) with small yellow-white flowers and elongated leaves.
Just like other members of this genus, this plant is endangered by the introduced species of plants, soil erosion, and especially: by the grazing by rabbits.
In 2011 there were known only two plants in the wilderness – both in Quebrada Lápiz.
Several more were grown in gardens in the main village of the island – San Juan Bautista. From time to time there are planted saplings of the tree in the wild – but, unfortunately, most are killed by rabbits sooner or later.
- Daniel J. Crawford, Tao Sang, Tod F. Stuessy, Seung-Chul Kim and Mario Silva O. Dendroseris (Asteraceae: Lactuceae) and Robinsonia (Asteraceae: Senecioneae) on the Juan Fernandez Islands: similarities and differences in biology and phylogeny. Evolution and Speciation of Island Plants. 1998.
- Tao Sang, Daniel J. Crawford, Sueng-Chul Kim, Tod F. Stueddy. Radiation of the Endemic Genus Dendroseris (Asteraceae) on the Juan Fernandez Islands: Evidence from Sequences of the ITS Regions of Nuclear Ribosomal DNA. Accessed in 08.01.2012.
- Arkive, Dendroseris (Dendroseris neriifolia) – images. American Journal of Botany, Vol 81, Issue 11, November 1994. Accessed in 08.01.2012.
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