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Erythrina schliebenii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA MAGNOLIOPSIDA FABALES LEGUMINOSAE

Scientific Name: Erythrina schliebenii
Species Authority: Harms

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2011-09-03
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC East African Plants Red List Authority
Reviewer(s): Hilton-Taylor, C. & Maunder, M.
Justification:
This species was previously thought to be Extinct, but has recently been rediscovered.

The Keeper of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) herbarium Frank Mbago collected the beautiful pink flowers of Erythrina schliebenii during an expedition in 2001 to the Namatimbili forest which is located a few kilometres inland of Kilwa.

The tree is named after the German botanist Hans-Joachim Schlieben, who collected it in 1934 and 1935. It was not seen again and was therefore declared Extinct in 1998 in The World List of Threatened Trees (Oldfield et al. 2008). Only a few specimens from its first collection have survived, as all the others were destroyed during World War II when the Berlin Herbarium caught fire during a bombing raid.

The former keeper of the UDSM herbarium, Leonard Mwasumbi, had unsuccessfully searched for the tree for many years in the area where it was first discovered beside Lake Lutamba near Lindi. But he learned from the local people that a large part of the forest beside Lake Lutamba had been cleared to make way for a cashew nut plantation in the 1940s. It is likely that the original population of E. schliebenii was located in that area.

Dr. Barbara Mackinder of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the UK recently compared the flower and leaves collected by Frank Mbago with Schlieben’s remaining specimens, as well as with other specimens of coral trees in the genus Erythrina.  From this material she was able to determine that E. schliebenii was in fact no longer extinct. The Namatimbili collection was made some 115 km from the original collection beside Lake Lutamba.

Erythrina schliebeni is only known from a single unprotected locality with a population of less than 50 mature individuals (about ten counted) hence it qualifies for listing as Critically Endangered under criterion D.

Regular monitoring of this population is recommended.
History:
1998 Extinct
1997 Endangered (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Recorded from southern Tanzania in the Lake Lutamba area in 1934 and  1935 and more recently at the Namatimbili Forest in 2001 (see details under the Red List Justification); attempts to relocate the species at Lake Lutamba have been unsuccessful. Occurs at an altitude of between 240 and 250 m.

Countries:
Native:
Tanzania, United Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Repeated searches for this species at its type locality have failed to rediscover it. It was collected in the 1930s in an area of forest on the sides of Lake Lutamba, which has since been cleared.

The extant population comprises at least ten mature plants and definitely less than fifty and is stable.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: A tree found in evergreen legume dominated forest growing on coral rag. The forest is surrounded by Brachystegia woodland.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no information on use.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The habitat at the type locality was cleared to make way for a cashew plantation. The only locality where it now occurs is secure, although not yet formally protected.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Not known to occur in any protected area. The United Nations Global Environment Facility (GEF) has recently awarded funds to the World Wide Fund for Nature Conservation (WWF) to thoroughly explore this and the neighbouring areas of forest, and to ensure that these forests are given proper legal protection. Further surveys should be conducted to see if this species is present in any other forest fragments in this area. The known population should also be regularly monitored, as any changes in forest management could very quickly impact this species.

Bibliography [top]

Clarke, G.P. and Lovett, J. 1996. Data collection forms for tree species of Tanzania.

Gillett, J.B., Polhill, R.M. and Verdcourt, B. 1971. Leguminosae Part 4; Papilionoideae (1) & (2). In: E. Milne-Redhead and R.M. Polhill (eds), Flora of Tropical East Africa, Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations, London.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.2). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 17 October 2012).


Citation: IUCN SSC East African Plants Red List Authority 2012. Erythrina schliebenii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 July 2014.
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