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Endangered Trees A-Z

A

African Blackwood, which is also known as Mpingo in Swahili is considered to be the national tree of Tanzania, despite the fact that it is native to 26 African countries, ranging from northern Ethiopia, to the south in Angola, also spreading from Senegal across to Tanzania.

Mpingo not only improves soil fertility, but is also good at maintaining soil stability. Its leaves offer feed for migrating herbivores and for domestic livestock. The mature African Blackwood trees are capable of surviving fires that destroy other vegetation in grasslands. The dark heartwood of Mpingo, is one of the most economically valuable timbers in the world.

B

Bois dentelle is a beautiful tree, endemic to the high cloud forest of Mauritius. Despite the fact that it has no commercial value, only two individuals are left. The most remarkable thing about the species are the flowers – sprays of white bell flowers with fine lacy petals that cover the tree in summer (January –March).

C

The Clanwilliam cedar is a species endemic to the Cederberg Mountains in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. A majestic tree of 6-18 meters in height, the Clanwilliam cedar is a rot-resistant, fragrant and visually beautiful timber that was extensively exploited for building, furniture and later on telegraph poles by European settlers in the eighteenth century.

D

The Dragon Tree is found on the Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Madeira and Morocco. The Guanche people of the Canary Islands used the sap for mummification purposes. In Ancient Rome, Sangre de Drago (Dragon Tree) was used as a colorant and across Europe it has been used as a varnish for iron tools.

According to the Greek myth, "The Eleventh Labor of Hercules: The Apples of the Hespérides", the hundred-headed dragon, Landon, who was said to have been the guardian of the Garden of the Hespérides, was killed by either Hercules or Atlas in order to fulfill Hercules’ task to bring back three golden apples from the garden. As told in the myth, the trees known as 'Dragon Trees’ sprung from Landon's red blood, which flowed out upon the land.

The species is classified as being "Endangered" by Cape Verde, while it is identified as being extinct in the wild on Brava and Santiago where only planted specimens exist today.

H

The Honduras rosewood is found in Belize in Central America and produces timber, which is extremely valued on the world market because of its use in musical instrument production.

Since the Honduras Rosewood supplies hard, heavy, durable and very resonant timber, when struck, it gives off a clear, loud note and making it itself most highly valued in the production of orchestral xylophones and claves. It is also used to make thin covering for fine furniture and cabinets, , knife handles etc.

L

The Loulu is a palm endemic to the northernmost of the Hawaiian Islands chain with the most variety of plant species of any island in Hawaii. There are fewer than 300 individuals of the Loulu left, because of limited regeneration caused by seed predation by rats and pigs as well as competing plants.

M

The Monkey Puzzle is the National Tree of Chile. Nevertheless, there is at least of these trees in every botanical garden in Europe. Its local name is Pehuén and its existence has great historical and social importance to the people living in that area known as the Pehuenche, which means “people of Pehuén”. The seeds of the tree shape an important part of their diet.

The Monkey puzzle is also valued for its unique and natural beauty, which makes it an emblem of a national parks and provinces in both Chile and Argentina. The timber found from the Pehuén has a high mechanical resistance and moderate resistance to fungal decay, hence for its being used for beams in buildings, bridges, roofs, furniture, boat structures, thin covering etc. Monkey puzzle forests have been fast destroyed and degraded due to logging, fire and grazing.

N

Nubian Dragon Tree is found in Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda and was once a widespread and abundant species.

It is one of the few species that can survive wide periods of drought in all parts of its scope, hence making it an important part of the desert ecosystem. The mature fruits of the Nubian Dragon tree are eaten and its sap and fruit may also have medicinal properties.

P

Pau brasil is the national tree of Brazil, making it have strong cultural links to Brazil’s social and economic history. The species is known for the dye extract taken from the heartwood, for which it has been exploited since 1501. Presently, the dye extract and its bark are used locally for medicinal purposes. Research is being carried out to find out whether the bark of this tree can be used as a cure for cancer.

Pau brasil wood is hard and compact, which is almost indestructible and was traditionally used to make hunting tools; commercially, it was harvested for use as a construction timber and in craftwork. It is also highly valued by musical instrument makers and still being exported for the production of bows for stringed instruments.

The various uses acquired from the Pau Brasil have made it target to extensive collection and export of the dyewood, resulting in the loss of large areas of forest and the enslavement of local people and later on the demand for its timber by bow manufacturers has contributed to a great loss.

Q

Quercus hintonii, also known as Encino of Hinton (Hinton's Oak), is endemic to Mexico. Some of the wood’s uses range from locally made tool handles, to beams and fencing poles, and primarily for firewood. Traditionally the wood is used to bake bread known as "las finas", which the distinctive taste is brought on by the smoke.

The species has also been highly affected by grazing, which prevents regeneration as well as the coming up of agriculture, coffee plantation and road construction have all contributed to the decline in the Quercus hintonii populations.

S

St Helena gumwood was selected as St. Helena’s national tree in 1977. The endemic floras of St Helena are not only of great biogeographical significance, but they are also home for equally rare and unusual animal species. The St. Helena gumwood is one of the fourteen most globally endangered and endemic tree species in St Helena. It is threatened by human presence and their use of the timber for firewood and building.

W

The Wollemi pine belongs to the ancient Araucariaceae species, thought to be over 200 million years old. Until 1994, the Wollemi pine was believed to have become extinct about 2 million years ago, but it was rediscovered in a gorge 150 km north-west of Sydney, Australia. There are less than 100 mature trees in the wild, making it one of the rarest species in the world. Because of this rarity, the Wollemi attracts a lot of tourism, which threatens its existence because of the therefore threatened by tourism, for it may be disturbed by human activities, also exposing it to seeds being trampled, compaction of the soil, the introduction of weeds and an increase in the possibility of fires.