We truly hope that you greatly enjoy and appreciate reading this article about 4 Exceedingly Rare Trees. Plants such as these are of paramount importance to all of us, for a variety of reasons. Among these is the fact of their contribution to the air we breathe.
Yet, each of them also plays important roles in their local ecosystems, however rare they may be. That’s because Nature evolved them for a reason and a purpose. But, the actions of man, for many of them, threaten to undermine their ability to fulfill it.
Jellyfish Tree Facts
- Leading off this article about 4 Exceedingly Rare Trees is perhaps the most distinctive-looking one among them, the Jellyfish Tree.
- The highly evocative term for it serves as the most frequently used common name for an extremely unusual type of tree. Its official scientific name, however, remains that of the all but unpronounceable Medusagyne oppositifolia.
- Regardless of which of these particular terms one chooses to use for it, this remarkable flora stands out for a most unfortunate reason. In point of fact, this fascinating tree currently ranks as one of the rarest known species of tree on earth.
- Researchers had, in fact, previously believed this marvel of Nature to be extinct. Then, to the sincere amazement of those same researchers, a chance discovery of a handful of specimens took place in the early 1970’s, exciting botanists worldwide.
- Presently, only around 30 known specimens exist in the wild, within an incredibly tiny area. Quite understandably, the IUCN currently lists the amazing Jellyfish Tree as Critically Endangered. This status appears on the organization’s Red List.
- Since its population remains so terribly small, as well as its remaining zone of habitation, one danger it faces comes from potential habitat loss. Its greatest threat, however, may now come in the form of the ongoing effects of climate change.
Jellyfish Tree Physical Description
Although the fabulous Jellyfish Tree does impress those individuals fortunate enough to encounter it, it does not do so due to sheer size. Somewhat surprisingly to some, this highly distinctive tree only ranks as a moderate-sized variety of tree.
Exceptional specimens attain measured heights of as much as 33 ft (10 m). Most individuals, however, remain somewhat smaller than that. It also develops a thick canopy, composed of densely interlocked, slightly elongated foliage, with a dark green color.
These leaves themselves, in fact, typically reach lengths equaling around 3.1 in (8 cm), and have a thick, leathery texture. The thin trunk of the tree develops a comparatively distinctive bark, displaying a dark color, along with deep, interlocking fissures.
The tree also bears both male and female flowers which develop small in size and white in color. Like Medusa, arguably the fruit represents its most unusual aspect. Its distinctive shape truly is remarkable, since it bears a strong resemblance to a jellyfish.
The fruit of the fascinating Jellyfish Tree also merit attention and appreciation for their distinctiveness. These develop with a rounded shape, like many fruits, and displaying a bright green color. This later changes to reddish-brown as it ages.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Malpighiales
- Family: Ochnaceae
- Genus: Medusagyne
- Species: M. oppositifolia
Jellyfish Tree Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Quite regrettably, the distinctive Jellyfish Tree only inhabits an extremely limited and restricted area of the world. For the moment, researchers have found no evidence that the marvelous plant ever existed anywhere outside of its current, tiny zone of habitation.
More precisely, the fabulous flora only appears on the tiny tropical island of Mahe. This island itself forms the main island of the Seychelles, considered as part of the continent of Africa. Even there, however, it only resides within a very tiny niche in the ecosystem.
Not only does that qualify as tiny, but the very nature of that exact habitat serves to further complicate its efforts to survive, let along to spread. In fact, all known specimens appear within 1.2 mi (2 km) of the sea, and grow in the cracks of exposed granite outcroppings.
This, understandably, appears to be severely hampering the survival efforts of the Jellyfish Tree. The few seeds produced by the surviving, mature trees, either fall on pure stone, thus having no chance to germinate, or find themselves quickly blown out to sea by the winds.
Although theories abound, one leading theory proposes that those tress alive today actually represent the outlying members of its original population. The idea is that invasive species in its original habitat, wherever that was, overtook the others.
Bois Dentelle Facts
- Next up among these choices for inclusion in this listing of 4 Exceedingly Rare Trees is the beautiful Bois Dentelle.
- The somewhat poetic term for it serves as the generally accepted term for an exceedingly beautiful variety of tree. Quite unfortunately, this marvel of Nature also qualifies as one of the rarest known species of tree in the entire world.
- Also bearing the truly cumbersome scientific name of the Elaeocarpus Bojeri, only 10 known specimens exist in the wild. Attempts to preserve the species by growing them in greenhouses, from seeds taken from them, remain ongoing.
- For the moment, however, success in this endeavor continues to extremely limited, with large-scale success eluding botanists. Thankfully, though, the few remaining specimens in the wild now enjoy a certain measure of protection.
- This occurs because their habitat now qualifies as both a religious site and an environmental refuge. The situation nonetheless remains incredibly worrisome for those who appreciate and value these beautiful works of Nature.
- Quite understandably, the IUCN currently lists the beautiful Bois Dentelle as Critically Threatened on its Red List of Threatened Species. In its specific case, the plant faces extreme peril from the dual threats of habitat loss and climate change.
Bois Dentelle Physical Description
Given that it also bears the common name of Lace Wood, the physical characteristics of the visually stunning Bois Dentelle come as no surprise. That particular term derives from the very delicate, lace-like patterns of the gorgeous flowers it produces.
The breathtaking tree also represents a tropical perennial that attains a comparatively moderate height of only 20 ft (6 m). The same flowers have become famous around the world for their frilled edges and delicate beauty, making its potential loss even more tragic.
In color, the gentle blooms of the marvelous Bois Dentelle typically display a gorgeous bright white, though a few may be a tan or cream in color. These same flowers also grow quite long, have a bell shape, and exist in copious quantities within large clusters.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Oxalidales
- Family: Elaeocarpaceae
- Genus: Elaeocarpus
- Species: E.bojeri
Bois Dentelle Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Since only a tiny handful of specimens of the magnificent Bois Dentelle still survive in the wild, its endemic range obviously remains incredibly limited. For the moment, it also remains unknown if that natural range ever extended much beyond what it inhabits now.
More precisely, this tragically rare plant only appears on one small hillside on the island of Mauritius, off the coast of Africa. Although its not known if it’s an indicator of a requirement or not, this area also happens to lie within the confines of the cloud forest on the island.
Appearing as it does, on that single hilltop, which bears the name of the Piton Grand Bassin, this lovely tree struggles to survive. Once pollination has been achieved, the magnificent lacy blossoms generally appear between the months of July to September.
Quite lamentably, its own natural habitat has been almost completely overtaken by several invasive species. These mainly include commercially viable plants, such as the guava, and a variety of evergreen shrub named the Litsea monopetala.
Clanwilliam Cedar Facts
- Our third choice for listing in this compendium of 4 Exceedingly Rare Trees is the remarkable Clanwilliam Cedar.
- The somewhat unique term for this species serves as one of the most often used common names for a remarkable species of tree. The truly marvelous variety of flora also goes by the alternate common name of the Clanwilliam cypress.
- Its scientific name, meanwhile, remains that of the nearly unpronounceable Widdringtonia wallichii. Whichever term an individual chooses to employ to speak of it, though, several facts about this tree distinguish it from other species.
- Among these is the fact that it ranks as an extremely long-lived plant, since some specimens measure more than 1,000 years of age. Unfortunately, however, another distinguishing fact about the tree remains the fact that it’s quite rare.
- In fact, researchers presently know of only five small groupings of the plant in existence. Since its numbers remain so few, the IUCN understandably lists the marvelous work of Nature as Critically Endangered on its Red List.
- For the moment, its most immediate threat appears to be that of ongoing habitat loss. Nonetheless, the Clanwilliam Cedar must also be considered to facing the same threat as species around the world. That consists of the effects of climate change.
Clanwilliam Cedar Physical Description
Although the fabulous Clanwilliam Cedar never fails to impress those who encounter it, the plant does not do so based on sheer physical size. Regardless of individual heights attained, though, the species represents an extremely slow-growing variety.
The great majority of known individual specimens eventually attain a height of roughly 16.4 – 23 ft (5 – 7 m). Exceptional specimens, although quite rare, do exist, with the tallest known individual attaining an impressive height equaling about 64 ft (20 m).
The trunk of this Pinophyta varies in diameter, yet remains relatively thin in relation to its height. The bark itself develops as thin, fibrous, and often flaking, with a remarkable reddish-gray color. These qualities become progressively more enhanced as the tree ages.
The other components of the amazing Clanwilliam Cedar also merit attention. Its leaves actually appear more like needles, averaging less than 0.16 in (4 mm) in length, and display a decidedly scaly nature to them, more so as they age, much like the bark.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Pinophyta
- Class: Pinopsida
- Order: Pinales
- Family: Cupressaceae
- Genus: Widdringtonia
- Species: W. wallichii
Clanwilliam Cedar Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Most unfortunately, the incredible Clanwilliam Cedar only inhabits an extremely limited region of the world. That range, to be more precise, consists of very specific portion of the southwestern section of the country of South Africa, in Africa.
Even within that already severely limited area, however, this true wonder of natural evolution only grows in certain regions. In point of fact, the entirety of its known geographical distribution consists of very small portions of the Cederberg Mountains.
Researchers have uncovered evidence that suggests that the impressive tree once existed as far more prevalent across its region that it does today. Now, though, the tree lives only in incredibly rugged terrain, mainly consisting of growing on rocky ridges or outcroppings.
The stunning Clanwilliam Cedar also shares its habitat with small bush vegetation, which renders it especially vulnerable to wildfires. Surprisingly, though, this same region of habitation also sits at altitudes measuring up to 4,300 ft (1,300 m) above sea level.
Pennantia baylisiana Facts
- Our final entry into this compendium of 4 Extremely Rare Trees is the rarest on the list, the rarely photographed Pennantia baylisiana.
- The somewhat hard to pronounce term for the tree actually represents the tongue-twisting scientific name for this incredible plant. Its common name, though, remains the equally unusual, but pronounceable, Three Kings kaikomako.
- Which name one chooses to use for it, however, makes absolutely no difference where one specific fact is concerned. Quite sadly, this remarkably distinctive flora further forms the single rarest known variety of tree on earth, at least in the wild.
- Given that its location appears to have never been inhabited, its existence remained unknown until its accidental discovery in 1945. Since that time, ongoing efforts to propagate it in greenhouses has met with some, if limited, success.
- In its native habitat, to date, only a single surviving specimen has been found. For that reason, the IUCN quite understandably presently lists this wonder of Nature as Critically Endangered. This sad status appears on the organization’s Red List.
- Evidence indicates that severe storms in modern times destroyed the rest of its mature population. Roving herds of wild goats sharing the habitat of the Pennantia baylisiana appear to have subsequently consumed all the seedlings existing at that time.
- Since only the single individual tree exists in the wild, potential habitat loss obviously poses a severe threat to its existence. Now, however, it must also face the same danger other species share, that of the effects of ongoing climate change.
Pennantia baylisiana Physical Description
Although it stands out from other trees due to its terrible situation, physically, it appears much like many related species. Most unfortunately, it currently remains undetermined if the single survivor in the wild represents an average example of the species.
For what it’s worth, this specific plant, which appears to be fully mature, displays a height measuring roughly 26 ft (8 m). It also possesses a comparatively moderate-sized crown, since this has a width that measures approximately 13 ft (4 m) across.
The tree also manages to impress in ways other than sheer height. For one, the wonder of evolution produces multiple trunks, each of which remains relatively thin. The bark of these trunks further has a unique quality, displaying an unusual grayish shade in color.
Its leaves also develop as dark green in color, and appear in large numbers. The flowers of the Pennantia baylisiana, meanwhile, possess their own distinctiveness. These remain small, appear in large clusters, and present either a bright green or white coloring.
Its fruit further distinguishes it from many related types of trees, at least in terms of appearance. This forms elongated in shape, and averages about 0.4 in (1 cm) in length. Each of these also has a bright purple coloring, and produces a single, quite tiny seed.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Tracheophyta
- Class: Magnoliopsida
- Order: Apiales
- Family: Pennantiaceae
- Genus: Pennantia
- Species: P. baylisiana
Pennatia baylisiana Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Obviously, the terribly rare Pennantia baylisiana has an unbelievably limited zone of habitation, since only one plant remains in the wild. This area happens to consist of the location known as Great Island, part of what man now calls the Three Kings Group.
This formation itself currently constitutes part of the country of New Zealand, near the continent of Australia. Each of these 13 uninhabited islands remains quite tiny, providing it with extremely limited options for spreading, even under optimal conditions.
Even though the surviving individual of the species is female, its location makes natural propagation virtually impossible. Amazingly, it resides on a rugged scree slope, sitting on the north face of the primarily rocky island, which only measures 1.5 sq mi (4 sq km).
Research, which remains ongoing, seems to indicate that the true natural habitat of the species consisted of a decidedly different environment. It’s believed by researchers that the species in general inhabited the thin coastal forest present of the tiny island.
Practical efforts to protect the remaining specimen exist, quite thankfully. In various locations, mainly in New Zealand, work also continues, albeit slowly, on increasing its numbers. This occurs primarily via cuttings, since viable fruit remains rare.
4 Exceedingly Rare Trees
We truly hope that you enjoyed reading this article about 4 Exceedingly Rare Trees, and that you come away from it with a renewed sense of appreciation for the majesty of our world. These works of nature never cease to amaze and impress us in so many ways!
But unfortunately, a great many of the trees of this world, like other forms of life, now find themselves in grave peril. It remains up to each of us to do all that we can to protect and preserve them, both for the planet itself, and for our own posterity to enjoy, as well.