St Helena Gumwood Facts
- The St Helena Gumwood forms one of the ten rarest species of tree on the planet, and evolved as endemic only to the island of St Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean. Even there the St Helena Gumwood grows in only a specific habitat range.
- At one time, it represented one of the most abundant species on the island. However, when the East India Company first settled the island, this particular species of tree they extensively used it for fuel. Also, goats introduced to the island often fed on seedlings.
- Non-native invasive plant species further damaged the soil within its environment, making successful natural propagation by the St Helena Gumwood infrequent.
- The St Helena Gumwood is one of the ten rarest species of tree on the planet, and is endemic only to one island. Click To Tweet
St Helena Gumwood Physical Description
The St Helena Gumwood attains a maximum height of about 26 ft (8 m). The trunks also tend to be rather crooked, and quite gnarly in shape. Further, the crown of the tree branches considerably, creating an umbrella shape.
The rather numerous leaves it produces grow to nearly 4 in (10 cm) in length and also vary between dark green and grayish-green in color.
This tree also blooms in both winter and spring, producing numerous small white flowers.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Asterales
- Family: Asteraceae
- Genus: Commidendrum
- Species: C. robustum
St Helena Gumwood Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The St. Helena Gumwood also occurs naturally only at altitude ranges between roughly 980-1,980 ft (300-600 m) on the island of St Helena. This species requires roughly 30 years to reach maturity.
Efforts to rejuvenate the presence of the St Helena Gumwood on the island remain ongoing. This effort began with a single individual, George Benjamin, in 1980.
Firstly, he began by planting a handful of trees and tending them by hand. He also planted more in both 1995 and 1998. Since then the community has joined in.
A protected area covering 618 acres (250 hectares) exists for the creation of a so-called Millenium Forest. To date, more than 3,000 trees have been planted, occupying approximately 10% of the allotted area.
Currently, a rather small group of forestry workers tends the area and works diligently to care for the trees and to keep the region free of invasive species.