Dracaena umbraculifera (Dracaena umbraculifera)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 182519109
Capturing the genetic diversity of the recently rediscovered plant Dracaena umbraculifera before it is too late.
Currently most of the population of Dracaena umbraculifera grows in tiny and thus difficult to conserve, unprotected forest fragments that will likely be destroyed in the next decade. The objective of this project is to stop this imminent loss of genetic diversity by collecting and propagating seeds from several individuals from each of the seven known sub-populations and conserving this diversity, ex-situ, as growing plants at Parc Ivoloina. Parc Ivoloina was originally established in colonial times as a location to trial exotic trees for commercial forestry but today Parc Ivoloina is managed under lease by the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, a consortium of international zoos and botanical gardens with an interest in Madagascar. MFG is a partner in this project. Parc Ivoloina’s 282 hectares comprise a matrix of habitat patches that are still dominated by exotic trees but are purposefully being replaced with east coast endemic species. Ultimately the plants of Dracaena umbraculifera conserved at Parc Ivoloina would be used, in conjunction with many other native tree species, as part of restoration endeavours in the degraded landscapes from whence they originated.
This project has now finished. During the field work our botanists located several hitherto unknown sub-populations of this species. These discoveries are significant because it is now clear that there are at least 11 sub-populations of this species of which three are located in protected areas (i.e. Betampona RNI, Analalava Forest NAP and Pointe à Larrée NAP). Thus the conservation status of this species is much less precarious than thought prior to this project. While the need for ex-situ conservation of Dracaena umbraculifera may have been diminished with the discovery of a number of previously unknown sub-populations including some in protected areas, there is still a residual need to preserve the genetic diversity from subpopulations growing in threatened forests. During the project we were able to collect vouchered seed samples or cuttings from six subpopulations f this species. At the time of writing 83 plants resulting from four of these sub-populations have been successfully propagated and planted out into Parc Ivoloina. Material from two other sub-populations, collected more recently, remain in the nursery and will be planted into the Parc when they attain an appropriate size. All plants planted out into the Parc have been individually tagged with a permanent and uniquely-numbered aluminium label that links the plant to its voucher herbarium specimen.
Project 182519109 location - Madagascar, Africa