Jellyfish Tree Principle Facts
- The reproductive components of the Jellyfish Tree’s female flower bear a strong resemblance to the tentacles of a jellyfish. These look like the snakes atop the head of Medusa, from Greek mythology, which also forms the source of their scientific name.
- The rather remarkable tree lists as Critically Endangered with the IUCN. In fact, scientists believed it to be extinct until the 1970s. At that time people could find a few individual specimens.
- This species also appears to be endemic to only one small island in all of nature. We do not know whether its range ever went beyond the confines of this island.
- The wind spreads the Jellyfish Tree’s seeds which appear very unusual in plants on small islands. This usually results in many of the seeds being blown into the surrounding waters.
- The incredible Jellyfish Tree can be found on only one small island in the whole world.Click To Tweet
Jellyfish Tree Physical Description
The Jellyfish Tree evolved as a rather small species of a tree often attaining heights of as much as 33 ft (10 m). This most unusual tree also grows topped by a crown of thick foliage that may reach 3.1 in (8 cm) in length.
The rather distinctive bark of the species also appears rather dark.
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: it bears a strong resemblance to a jellyfish.
The shape is rounded and the color is green at first. Then, however, it becomes reddish-brown as it matures.
As it dries, the seeds (which are quite small) are exposed. As a result, winds easily disperse the seeds with many of them falling right into the sea.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Malpighiales
- Family: Ochnaceae
- Genus: Medusagyne
- Species: M. oppositifolia
Jellyfish Tree Habitat and Ecology
The Jellyfish Tree constitutes a truly remarkable and rather beautiful tree.
It exists only on the tiny tropical island of Mahe which forms the main island of Seychelles, part of Africa. Importantly, even there the tree inhabits a very tiny niche. It also grows only in areas of exposed granite.
All of the extant plants live within 1.2 mi (2 km) of the sea. At present, scientists know of no young plants to exist in Nature. The species also appears to now be unable to germinate in the wild.
In addition, people believe that the trees’ native environment remains further inland. Human activity or invasive species could have played a major role in the decrease of Jellyfish Tree numbers.
Consequently, the individuals currently known represent the last of the species in Nature. It is most noteworthy that only 30 plants remain in their habitat.