Pittosporum tanianum


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pittosporum tanianum
Species Authority: Veillon & Tirel

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Suprin, B.
Reviewer(s): Hilton-Taylor, C. & Pollock, C.M. (Red List Programme Office)
Pittosporum tanianum was first discovered in 1988 on the small island of Lepredour, in St Vincent Bay, south of New Caledonia. Although it was only known from collections taken from two mature trees, observations showed that though it was similar to P. coccineum there were enough striking differences (particularly the yellow flowers) to describe it as a new species (Tirel and Veillon, 2002). Unfortunately, both the trees died in 1992. The species was then considered as Extinct, as the probability of finding any surviving trees was seen as extremely low (Jaffré et al. 1993, Oldfield et al 1998).

On May 23, 2002, Bernard Suprin rediscovered a single tree of P. tanianum. As a result, the species was listed in the 2003 Red List as Data Deficient pending further information. Thanks to tenacious investigation and with the help of staff from other institutions, two additional mature trees were located in the months that followed the initial rediscovery. It is possible that further trees may be found, however, very little of the original forest habitat remains and much of this, especially the area where the trees were found, is still under severe threat. Action to conserve this species is urgently needed, otherwise it could well face extinction again, this time for real.
2003 Data Deficient (IUCN 2003)
2003 Data Deficient
1998 Extinct (Oldfield et al. 1998)
1998 Extinct
1998 Extinct
1997 Extinct (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The species was first discovered in 1988 from two specimens on the island of Leprédour.
New Caledonia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Five years after its discovery both known individuals died, one because the surrounding soil had eroded away.

In 2002, a single tree was rediscovered. Two additional mature trees were located in the months that followed the initial rediscovery. It is possible that further trees may be found, however, very little of the original forest habitat remains and much of this is still under severe threat.

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Occurs in sclerophyllous forest.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Only about 1–2% of the initial area of sclerophyll forest is still maintained in New Caledonia, mainly because of high pressure from wild fires and clearing for husbandry. The forest is very fragmented, with islands not larger than a few tens of hectares, and the forest understorey is often invaded by shrubs or lianas and damaged through browsing by cattle and deer. The forest remnants where P. tanianum occurs total about 5 ha and are impacted by deer.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Propagation of cuttings has failed.

A steady survey of maturation of fruits have lead to punctual collects. Germination of seeds has been obtained in both nursery and laboratory. Seedlings will be educated in nursery in order to reintroduce the species in Lepredour Island, or to translocate it on surrounding sites (e.g., Pointe Maa, Montagnès peninsula). Before this time, actions of protection of the adult trees have been undertaken, in order to avoid damage from rats (on seeds) or deer (on trunk). At a larger scale, contacts have been taken with local authorities in order to protect the whole remnants of the forest of Lepredour.

P. tanianum is expected to be saved of extinction, and furthermore might be utilized as an ornamental species in gardens of Noumea.

All concerned by the precariousness of this type of forest, nine institutions have joined their efforts since 2001 : State of France, New Caledonia Territory, Northern Province, Southern Province, Agronomic Institute of New Caledonia (IAC), Research Institute for Development (IRD), University of New Caledonia (UNC), Centre of Initiation to Environment (CIE), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). They gave birth to the Programme de Conservation des Forêts Sèches de Nouvelle-Calédonie, which covers several programs, dealing with studies or experimentations, actions of protection, and formation or communication. The Program is placed under the responsibility of a coordinator which is based in Kone, in the northern part of New Caledonia.

Bibliography [top]

Bouchet, P., Jaffré, T. and Veillon, J.-M. 1995. Plant extinction in New Caledonia: protection of sclerophyll forests urgently needed. Biodiversity and Conservation 4: 415-428.

IUCN. 2003. 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 18 November 2003.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 November 2004.

Jaffre, T., Bouchet, P. and Veillon, J.-M. 1998. Threatened plants of New Caledonia: Is the system of protected areas adequate? Biodiversity and Conservation 7(1): 36.

Jaffré, T., Morat, P. and Veillon, J.-M. 1993. Etude floristique et phytogéographique de la forêt sclérophylle de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Adansonia 15(1-4): 107-146.

Oldfield, S., Lusty, C. and MacKinven, A. (compilers). 1998. The World List of Threatened Trees. World Conservation Press, Cambridge, UK.

Tirel, C. and Veillon, J.-M. 2002. Pittosporaceae. Flore de la Nouvelle-Calédonie t.24, MNHN, Paris, 178 p.

Citation: Suprin, B. 2004. Pittosporum tanianum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 30 March 2015.
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