Wright's gardenia (Rothmannia annae)

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderRubiales
FamilyRubiaceae
GenusRothmannia (1)
SizeHeight: up to 6 m (2)

Wright's gardenia is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List (1).

Wright's gardenia (Rothmannia annae) is viewed by some as one of the most beautiful of the Seychelles trees. It is small with smooth, greyish-green bark and acutely pointed, dark-green leaves (2), which may reach 12 cm long (4). The white flowers are speckled with deep red and have a strong, heady scent (2). Fruits are olive-green rounded berries; they may be up to 6 cm long and contain many seeds (2).

Endemic to the Seychelles, naturally occurring populations today exist only on the island of Aride, the most northerly member of the archipelago (2).

Known from seven sites on the island of Aride, which vary in height from the plateau a few metres above sea level to the mountain's summit (2).

After periods of heavy rain, all the trees in the area will produce their strongly-scented white flowers (2). These only persist for a few days but flowering will continue throughout the rainy season that runs from October to May (2).

Wright's gardenia is restricted to one single population on Aride Island in the Seychelles. Other nearby populations have become extinct for unknown reasons, which could also affect the only remaining population. Although the reason for local extinction is unknown, it is thought that introduced pests may have been the cause, as well as competition with Pisonia grandis. The highly restricted range of Wright’s gardenia makes it particularly vulnerable to extinction (1).

The island of Aride is a Special Reserve (1) and has been the focus of a long-running habitat restoration programme carried out by the Royal Society for Nature Conservation, which involves the removal of introduced plants such as coconut palms (3). Almost all non-native trees have been removed, and endemics such as Wright's gardenia have been planted and are showing encouraging sings of recovery (3). Stands of Wright's gardenia have also been planted on the islands of Fregate and Silhouette; the first wild germination on an island other than Aride for over 100 years has recently occurred on Fregate (3). Careful monitoring and management of these populations are required, but the future of this beautiful tree now appears more secure thanks to concerted conservation efforts in the Seychelles.

To learn more about conservation in the Seychelles visit:

Authenticated (6/5/03) by Justin Gerlach. Scientific Co-ordinator, The Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles.
http://islandbiodiversity.com

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Wise, R. (1998) A Fragile Eden. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
  3. Robertson, S.A. (1989) Flowering Plants of the Seychelles. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  4. Gerlach, J. (2003) Restoring habitats in the Seychelles. Plant Talk, 31: 6 - 8.