Plant Conservation Day

Plant Conservation Day

Flowers of Magnolia macrophylla subsp. ashei photo credit: ML Gessel

Today is Plant Conservation Day! It was started in 2001 by the AZH, Association of Zoological Horticulture and expanded in 2006 by partnering with the BGCI, Botanic Gardens Conservation International.  In 2008, Plant Conservation Day celebrations were held in the United States and Europe.  Through a grant in 2009, activities were expanded worldwide.

The Scott Arboretum is not defined as a conservation-based organization, however, our collections do include many specimens from across the globe which are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  This list provides taxonomic, conservation status, and distribution information on plants that are facing a high risk of global extinction.

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Bloom of Liriodendron chinense. photo credit: D. Mattis

In 2009, the Red List of Magnoliaceae was published with the support of Fauna and Flora International; BGCI; The Global Trees Campaign; the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature; and the SSI, Species Survival Commission.  This document lists and describes those taxa of Magnoliaceae which are threatened and endangered throughout the world.

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Pyramidal habit of Liriodendron chinense. photo credit: D. Mattis

We have several specimens of globally threatened plants growing at the Scott Arboretum.   Closely related to our native tulip tree is Liriodendron chinense.  At the Sharples Dining Hall is a relatively young specimen with leaves very similar to Liriodendron tulipifera, but almost twice the size.  While our native tulip trees are very upright as young specimens, the Chinese tuliptree is broadly pyramidal.  In the wild, this species is found in montane forests in the Yangtze River valley extending south into northern Vietnam.

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Arboretum Assistant, Alan Kruza demonstrates the size of the leaf and flower of M. ashei. photo credit: D. Mattis

Endemic to northern Florida is Magnolia macrophylla subsp. ashei.  This is found from Leon and Wakulla Counties westward to Santa Rosa county in the Florida Panhandle.  Like Magnolia macrophylla, big-leaf magnolia, M. ashei has very large leaves, however the stature of the plant is much smaller.  Flowering in late May it has very large white fragrant flowers over one foot in diameter with a purple splotch in the center.  At Old Tarble there is a specimen that is twelve feet tall with an equal spread.

In addition to the aforementioned species, the Arboretum plans to add the following globally threatened species to our collections: Magnolia sinensis, M. wilsonii, M. dawsoniana and M. biondii.

Andrew Bunting
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