Eryngium sarcophyllum   (Hook.& Arn.)


 
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Más Afuera Sea Holly
(Eryngium sarcophyllum)

 
syn. -

 
distribution:

Chile: Isla Alejandro Selkirk / Juan Fernández Islands

 
local name: -

 
size: ca. 40 - 60 cm (height)

extinction date: last seen in 1991

 
The distribution of this species was restricted to the coastal cliffs of the Isla Alejandro Selkirk, still named Más Afuera at that time.

It was somewhat a miniaturized version of a tree of hardly ever much more than 50 cm of height with an 10 to 20 cm tall, about 1 cm wide stem, which was covered more or less completely by withered leaves. The leaves themselves were very narrowly, nearly band-shaped and were described as very succulent.

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The photograph shown below dates from the year 1920 and shows a plant that was sown in the year 1919 and which flowered just the next year.

Unfortunately the pictured specimen died soon after without setting viable seed, otherwise this species would probably still extist, at least in cultivation.

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The last members of this species were found in the year 1919, two very badly tattered individuals were all that escaped the unappeasable apetite of the countless feral goats on these islands. All other searches in the hereafter years were however completely unsuccessful - the species is extirpated now.

... macabre but true:

Exactly these feral goats on their part are now everywhere regarded as a peculiar race (Juan Fernández Goats), and are kept in zoos which are specialized in keeping rare or even threatened races of domestic animals.

 
left:

Más Afuera Sea Holly (Eryngium sarcophyllum), cultivated plant


Photo from: 'The Natural history of Juan Fernandez and Easter Island, edited by Carl Skottsberg. Vol. 2., Botany. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksells Boktryckeri, 1920-1953'

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org

 
References:

- C. Skottsberg: Notas sobre la vegetación de las Islas de Juan Fernández. Anales J. Bot. Madrid 11: 515-544. 1953
- Marcia Ricci: Conservation status and ex situ cultivation efforts of endemic flora of the Juan Fernández Archipelago. Biodivers Conserv 15:3111–3130. 2006
- Francis Hallé; Philippe Danton; Christophe Perrier: Architectures de plantes de l'Íle Robinson Crusoe, archipel Juan Fernández, Chili. Adansonia, Vol. 29, No 2, pp. 333-350. 2007