Thursday, July 18, 2024

The loneliest plant on the planet, looking for a mate to save E.woodi

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Someone knew her as The loneliest creature on our planet. And indeed that of Wooden brain It is a story of the search for a partner that has lasted for more than a century. This plant belongs To the order of cycads It is actually officially extinct in the wild, and the existing specimens, preserved in a few hundred botanical gardens around the world, are all male, Genetic clones It is the only plant of this type discovered by man in the world Forest in Ngwi, In South Africa. In the absence of a female sample, E Woody It is destined to always remain on the brink of extinction, because the species’ very low genetic variation exposes it to the risks of disease, climate change, and the impossibility of They reproduce sexually This type prevents us from planning resettlement programmes. But fortunately for him, there are several research projects working to find a solution.

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Discovery E. Woody This is due to the South African botanist John Medley WoodHe was one of the first scientists to catalog plants NatalIt is a governorate located on the eastern coast of the country and overlooking On the Indian OceanToday, it has been replaced by a province KwaZulu-Natal Which also includes the areas that were at that time Apartheid They had to assimilate black ethnic groups (so-called Bantustan). On one of his expeditions 1895Wood found four specimens of an unknown cycad, which was actually derived from the basal buds of a single plant.

A search near Wood was unable to identify any other specimens Wooden brainTherefore, he limited himself to cataloging new species. In the following years, three suckers were taken from the plant and planted At the Durban Botanic Gardens (a port city in the region), of which Wood was curator. A few suckers were taken in the following years and shipped to other botanic gardens (in Ireland and elsewhere), and in 1916 The only remaining trunk It was taken from Forestry Department South Africa, fearing that something might happen to him, officially punishes him extinction of species, At least in nature. Over the years the available suckers have become more widespread, and today there are approx 500 copies They are scattered around the world, including two in Italy, one in the Palermo Botanical Gardens and one in the Naples Gardens (But it was apparently stolen from her in 2008).

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All male specimens

The specimen discovered by Wood in 1985 was a male. Therefore, This is how all plants are E. Woody exists in the world, are obtained by cutting the basal shoots of that single specimen. Command – request Cycadalisof which it is a part Wooden brain, consisting entirely of dioecious species, meaning they have two distinct sexes, and require two plants of different sexes in order to reproduce. In the case of cycads it occurs through i coniThey are specialized structures that produce pollen in males and contain the eggs that will be fertilized in females.

These are very ancient plants whose evolutionary history dates back to c com. carboniferoor beyond that 300 million years ago. In the Mesozoic they dominated the planet, thanks to the hot and humid conditions that characterized that period, ideal for these tropical plants. Today, unfortunately, most of the known species are at risk of extinction, due to… Elimination of Forests And based on Excessive harvesting for commercial purposes (very popular with collectors), has a very slow life and reproductive cycle (it takes a specimen from 10 to 20 years to reach maturity) which does not allow it to quickly adapt to environmental changes.

Karen Hines
Karen Hines
"Internet trailblazer. Travelaholic. Passionate social media evangelist. Tv advocate."

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