Thursday, 2 November 2017

Elaeocarpus bojeri (Elaeocarpaceae)

Elaeocarpus bojeri (Elaeocarpaceae) is endemic to the Cloud Forest of Mauritius with less than 10 individuals in two known locations in the wild. These populations are found on Le Pouce Mountain and Piton Grand Bassin.

This critically endangered species grows to a height of 3m and flowers from July to November
This critically endangered species grows to a height of 3m and flowers from July to November

Its common name in mauritius is Bois dentelle and "lacewood" in English because of the delicate flowers
Its common name in Mauritius is "Bois Dentelle" and  "Lace Wood" in English because of the delicate flowers.
Tree transplanted to Curepipe Nursery compound laden with flower buds
Tree transplanted to Curepipe Nursery compound laden with flower buds
Prior to the construction of  the Hanuman Temple on Piton Grand Bassin, a tree falling in the alignment of the structure was transplanted to Curepipe Nursery under directions from late Conservator of Forests, Mr. A.W. Owadally, The tree is now healthy, flowers regularly and a few natural seedlings have even been collected.

A layering from the same tree was planted in the arboretum before the inauguration of Mon Vert Walk and it is healthy also. It is worthy to note that Mr. Bhujohory, Senior Forest Conservation and Enforcement Officer  has successfully  propagated a few plants by air-layering.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Oeoniella polystachys (Orchidaceae)

Oeoniella polystachys is an orchid which is endemic to the south western Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Réunion, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles, bearing white flowers of about 2-3 cm across, blooming for about a month from late July to late November.

Plant specimen is 15cm high and flowers are nocturnally fragrant

Oeoniella polystachys is common in Madagascar, and is found mostly on the east coast. In Réunion, it is present in the northern dry forests, where the population is declining.


Spike usually bears between 8 to 15 flowers
In Mauritius, It is present in the south east region, close to the sea where the atmosphere it is dry and humid. Some locations are: Riche en Eau, Ile aux Aigrettes, Bambous Mountain Range. It can be also be observed at la Nicoliere and in the Bras D'eau region.


Distance between two lateral sepals is 3cm

Status of native flora of Mauritius

The Mascarene islands, Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues which are situated in Indian Ocean are a sanctuary for numerous plant species that are found nowhere else on planet earth.

Mascarenes archipelago highlighted in red

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified the Mascarenes as a Centre of Plant Diversity. It came as no surprise when IUCN rated Mauritius as having the third most endangered island flora in the world after Hawaii and the Canary Islands.

The flora of Mauritius consists of just under 700 species and the table below highlights some of the taxa according to their status:

Status
No. of Taxa
Endemic
273
Extinct
61
Endangered
55
Vulnerable    
98

It is is a matter of great concern that 89 taxa are represented by 10 or fewer known individuals and five taxa are represented by only a single individual in the wild.

Many of the surviving endemic species are threatened with extinction, due mainly to introduction of invasive alien species, decline in forest cover and over-exploitation. Their isolation combined with the physical, climatic, and biological factors prevailing in this part of the Indian Ocean have contributed to the high level endemism found here.

Enough of the technical jargon now! My first post has been very long, but please bear with me friends. This was necessary to set the stage for subsequent articles that will aim to create awareness on the Flora of Mauritius. The pictures that will be posted are from my personal collection and some have been shared by friends and colleagues as well.