Discovery could prevent extinction

Kew researchers give new hope to survival of the Cafe Marron

Researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have given new hope to the survival of the critically endangered Ramosmania rodriguezii by producing its fruit for the first time on record. Originally found discovered on the island of Rodrigues in Mauritius in 1877, but now thought to be extinct, a single plant of the Café Marron was found on a roadside verge on the island by a schoolboy looking for rare plants. However, because it was thought not to produce seeds there was little hope for survival of the species. Kew, in a collaboration with the Mauritian Forestry Service and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, took cuttings, which produced 11 plants, but still no viable seed. Kew first-year diploma student Carlos Magdelena conducted pollination trials and produced two fruits containing viable seeds. Some of the seeds have been successfully germinated in vitro and others are stored in the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place.

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