Kniphofia (Kniphofia reflexa)

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Kniphofia reflexa
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Kniphofia fact file

Kniphofia description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderLiliales
FamilyAsphodelaceae
GenusKniphofia (1)

This large herb was lost to science for over 60 years until it was rediscovered in 1996 (3). The long leaves are arranged in large rosettes, which can be around a metre wide (2). The inflorescence, or flower stem, towers from this base as a conspicuous spike, which can be 2 metres tall when bearing fruit (2). The upper portion of the stalk carries many small, bell-like yellow flowers (2).

Size
Height in fruit: up to 2 m (2)
Diameter of basal rosette: up to 1 m (2)
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Kniphofia biology

Very little is known about this perennialherb(2), but it may be that fire is needed to either promote flowering or to appropriately manage the habitat within which it is found; more research is needed on this subject (1). Fruiting occurs in November and flowering may take place in April (2).

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Kniphofia range

Kniphofia reflexa was 'rediscovered' in 1996 in the Afua swamp in Cameroon but has subsequently disappeared from this site (3). It is presently known from 3 different sites within Cameroon: Kinkolong near the summit of Mount Oku, 'Mbesa Swamp' on the Ijim Ridge and a population within the Mbi Crater (3). In May 2002, between 1 and 3,000 plants were recorded at the Mbi Crater and this is now recognised to be the main stronghold of the species (4).

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Kniphofia habitat

Inhabits swamps, marshes and bogs (1); found between 1,750 and 2,900 metres above sea level (2).

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Kniphofia status

Classified as Endangered (EN - C1) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

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Kniphofia threats

The cause of the disappearance of Kniphofia reflexa from the Afua Swamp is unclear but the area has undergone extensive habitat destruction in recent years. This is likely to have played a major part in the disappearance, and represents the biggest threat to the survival of this rare species today (3).

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Kniphofia conservation

Kniphofia reflexa is the only member of this genus to be found in central-West Africa, making its conservation particularly important (3). The conservation priorities are annual monitoring of the three known sites to determine the state of the populations, as well as searches for possible new areas (1). Propagation of Kniphofia reflexa from seed, with a view to reintroducing this species to the Afua Swamp, is also a possibility (2).

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Authentication

Authenticated (20/1/03) by Ben Pollard, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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Glossary

Herb
A small, non-woody, seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.
Inflorescence
The reproductive shoot of the plant, which bears flowers (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure)
Perennial
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2002) www.redlist.org
  2. Cheek, M., Onana, J.-M. and Pollard, B.J. (2000) The Plants of Mount Oku & the Ijim Ridge, a Conservation Checklist. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.
  3. Cheek, M. (Oct, 2002) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
  4. Pollard, B. (Jan, 2003) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Kniphofia reflexa  
Kniphofia reflexa

© Ben Pollard / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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