Researchers rediscover tree lost for 97 years

Researchers have rediscovered a beautiful magnolia tree lost to science for 97 years. The chance of finding it is “one in a million”.

The northern Haiti magnolia (Magnolia emarginata) was discovered in 1925 but has since been lost to science, Re:wild noted in a news release. Morne Colombo, the forest where it was originally discovered has been destroyed.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the northern Haiti magnolia is classified as “Critically Endangered”. In fact, the IUCN wrote in the listing that it was “possibly extinct.”

The team of five searched for the tree in mid-June so the flowers would bloom and it would be easier to identify, Re:wild said. Despite postponements due to travel restrictions and social unrest, as well as a downpour that disrupted their trek, the team eventually spotted the tree’s distinctive flowers and foliage.

They found the tree in different stages of life, from juvenile to adult, and were able to take the “first” photos of it. Some of the images, including the beautiful flowers of the trees, can be seen here. Researchers were also able to collect DNA samples for analysis.

“The odds of finding this tree were one in a million considering so few of Haiti’s forests remain,” said Eladio Fernandez of the Haiti National Trust, who led the expedition, in the Re:wild press release . “This rediscovery serves as a beacon of hope for Haiti’s biodiversity. Despite the desolate state of the country’s degraded forests, it still harbors species like these found nowhere else in the world and gives us an opportunity to save them.”

According to Re:wild, only 1% of Haiti’s original forests remain due to activities such as burning and logging. This has resulted in many of the country’s native plants growing in forested areas on mountaintops and in steep ravines, where they are isolated and not easily accessible. This means even the locals may be oblivious to the wildlife in their area.

The discovery of the tree in different life stages offers hope for its future, according to Re:Wild. There are now plans for fall seed collection.

“This rediscovery spurs our efforts to revitalize Haiti,” said Anne-Isabelle Bonifassi, executive director of the Haiti National Trust, in the Re:wild press release. “We’ve been working hard in Haiti’s Grand Bois to restore the forests there, including Haiti’s other endemic magnolia species, and we’re excited to apply that work to help us conserve another beautiful and iconic magnolia.”

The rediscovery of the northern Haiti magnolia adds to the list of species being rediscovered thanks to the efforts of researchers and conservationists. At the beginning of the year, a research team also reported on the rediscovery of the plant, which was even called “Extinctus” because of the suspicion that it was already extinct.


Photo: Pixabay-원경 장 Researchers rediscover tree lost for 97 years

Fry Electronics Team

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