Schefflera (Schefflera procumbens)
Schefflera procumbens is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Found entwined with trees in forests, which it uses for support, Schefflera procumbens is a rare epiphyte with grey bark. Each leaf is composed of 10 leathery leaflets, each up to 15 centimetres long, radiating from a central stem measuring 20 centimetres long (2) (3). The fleshy, greenish flowers of Schefflera procumbens are borne in tight clusters on spikes and measure just half a centimetre wide (3), while the round, cream-coloured, fleshy fruits may be up to eight millimetres across (2).
Endemic to the Seychelles where it occurs solely on the island of Silhouette. Schefflera procumbens used to also occur on Mahé, but has now become extinct on this island (2).
Schefflera procumbens grows on mountain ridges on the granitic island of Silhouette (1) (4), where it generally occurs between 400 and 700 metres above sea level (2). It was said to once be a characteristic feature of mountain mist forest - humid forest which occurs at altitudes between 2,000 and 3,500 metres and is often enshrouded in low cloud - but this threatened climber is now much less common (5).
Schefflera procumbens is an epiphyte (2): a plant that uses another plant, typically a tree, for its physical support but does not draw nourishment from it (6). It grows up to the uppermost parts of the forest, known as the canopy, where it flowers and fruits (2).
Schefflera procumbens is thought to have become extinct on Mahé primarily due to the degradation of its habitat. The remaining population on Silhouette is unknown, but is thought to be very small. The main threat to Schefflera procumbens is its very restricted range, which makes it highly susceptible to the impacts of any threats, and it may also be negatively affected by competition with invasive species, poor sexual reproduction, low genetic variability and limited dispersal (1).
No specific conservation measures are currently known to be in place for Schefflera procumbens, and this species does not occur in any protected areas. New data on this rare plant is urgently needed to create an appropriate conservation plan (1).
For further information on conservation in the Seychelles see:
Nature Protection Trust Seychelles:
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- Endemic: a species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Epiphyte: a plant that uses another plant, typically a tree, for its physical support, but which does not draw nourishment from it.
- Genetic diversity (genetic variation): the variety of genes within a particular species, population or breed causing differences in morphology, physiology and behaviour.
IUCN Red List (January, 2011)
- Wise, R. (1998) A Fragile Eden. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
- Robertson, S.A. (1989) Flowering Plants of Seychelles. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Nature Seychelles (July, 2008)
- Fleischmann, K., Héritier, P., Meuwly, C., Küffer, C. and Edwards, P.J. (2003) Virtual gallery of the vegetation and flora of the Seychelles. Bulletin of the Geobotanical Institute ETH, 69: 57 - 64.
- Allaby, M. (1998) Dictionary of Plant Sciences. Oxford University Press, Oxford.