Nesiota elliptica   ((Roxb.) Hook. f.)


 
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Saint Helena Olive
(Nesiota elliptica)

 
syn. Phylica elliptica (Roxb.)

 
distribution:

British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha: Saint Helena

 
local name:

Wild Olive (English - Saint Helena)

 
size: ca. 4 m (Höhe)

extinction date: 2003

 
The Saint Helena Olive, in fact a member of the Buckthorn family and therefore not related to the olive trees of the Mediterranean region, is one of the few species, whose extinction date is exactly known.

The last remaining specimen died in the year 2003, carried off by a fungus.

Before this, there have been several efforts to save this species at the last minute, efforts from which other plant species on Saint Helena indeed benefited.

In the year 1977 a last specimen was discovered in the wild, after the species was considered extinct for almost 100 years. Unfortunately this plant was heavily infected by fungal diseases and died in the year 1994.

However, cuttings were taken from this treelet shortly before, of which yet again only a single one survived at least until the year 1997. The last two plants, which again were seedlings of this cutting, died in the year 1999 respectively 2003.

 
left:

Saint Helena Olive (Nesiota elliptica)


Depiction from 'John Charles Meliss: St. Helena: A Physical, Historical, and Topographical Description of the Island, including its Geology, Fauna, Flora, and Meteorology. London: L. Reeve & Co., 1875'

 
References:

- William Botting Hemsley: Report on the Botany of the Bermudas and various other Islands of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans. Report on the scientific results of the voyage of H. M. S. Challenger during the years 1873-76: under the command of Captain George S. Nares, R. N., F. R. S. and Captain Frank Turle Thomson, R. N.. Botany Vol. 1: 49-122, 1885