Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is part of a worldwide group project to conserve Sophora toromiro, a native small tree of Easter Island, which is now extinct in the wild.
Seed was collected from the last surviving Toromiro tree on Easter Island in 1958.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne has become a key contributor to an international effort to conserve Sophora toromiro, a native of Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Sophora toromiro is now extinct in the wild and only survives in cultivation in a few Botanic Gardens around the world.
Specimens held at RBG Melbourne for over 30 years have now acquired international significance.
Little is known of Sophora toromiro’s history, but it appears that the species was severely affected by the introduction of livestock on Rapa Nui and its wood was highly valued by the islanders for carved religious statuettes. Seed was collected from the last surviving wild Toromiro tree, on the slopes of the Rano Kao crater, by Thor Heyerdahl in 1958.
Previous attempts to reintroduce the species on Rapa Nui have failed for a number of reasons, and the RBG is currently part of a worldwide management group working to co-ordinate the conservation and possible reintroduction of Sophora toromiro to Rapa Nui.
In order to learn more about the reproductive cycle of Sophora toromiro, nursery staff at the RBG Melbourne have undertaken propagation trials using cuttings and seed collected from each parent plant.
Last updated 23 Feb 2010