Trochetiopsis ebenus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Malvales Sterculiaceae

Scientific Name: Trochetiopsis ebenus
Species Authority: Cronk
Common Name(s):
English Dwarf ebony, Ebony, St Helena Ebony
Melhania melanoxylon sensu Melliss non R. Br. in Ait.
Trochetiopsis melanoxylon (R. Br. in Ait.) Marais non Cronk

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2003
Date Assessed: 2003-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Cairns-Wicks, R.
Reviewer(s): Cronk, Q. & Clubbe, C. (South Atlantic Island Plants Red List Authority)
Trochetiopsis ebenus populations declined sharply in the eighteenth century, principally because of overgrazing by goats, and was thought at one time to be extinct. In 1980, two low shrubs were discovered near the Asses Ears.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1998 Critically Endangered (CR)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Once distributed commonly in dry places between 200 and 500 m, especially in northern and western parts of the island. The populations declined sharply in the eighteenth century, principally because of goat grazing, and was thought at one time to be extinct. In 1980, two low shrubs were discovered near the Asses Ears. The genus is made up of just three species endemic to St Helena, two of which are extinct in the wild.
Countries occurrence:
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Formerly a small tree up to 4-5 m., now a low shrub. The only individuals of T. ebenus known to exist in the wild were discovered on a cliff.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): All existing material in cultivation is derived from two individuals, inbreeding inevitable and potential inbreeding depression. Current plantings dominated by one clone and planted with hybrid supporting problems associated with inbreeding or introgression. The ebony has not yet been properly secured in an ex-situ gene bank where it is isolated from the hybrid.

This species was previously burnt in limekilns to produce mortar. The wood was also used in 19th century for turnery and ornament making and was introduced to British gardens around 1800.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Cuttings were collected from the upper plant on the cliff in 1980 which rooted readily. Approximately 4,000 plants were propagated between 1980 and 1992 and planted out on the island. Planting has been carried out at Pounceys, High Peak Ebony Plain, Casons, Scotland, the Jamestown Public Gardens, and in many other private gardens.
The Draft Recovery Action Plan for T. ebenus has set out a number of objectives in order to encourage the long-term persistence of the Ebony through coordinated and agreed action between the members of the ANRD, the SNCG and the Species Recovery Group. The specific objectives are:
1. To carry out a programme of propagation and seed collection.
2. To maintain and expand the established gene banks, at Whites Cottage – Norman Williams Nature Reserve, Pounceys and Scotland and establish a new field gene bank at the Millennium Forest.
3. To maintain ex-situ stocks at RBG Kew and Eden Project and establish long-term seed storage at Wakehurst Place Seed Bank.

Citation: Cairns-Wicks, R. 2003. Trochetiopsis ebenus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2003: e.T37855A10082104. . Downloaded on 29 June 2016.
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