The Bois Dentelle is an organism that you may have not heard of. But chances are if you are looking at this article you already know that this is a tree, and a very rare tree at that. This tree from the Mauritius Cloud Forests, which itself is highly endangered, has only two individuals left on a hill called Piton Grand Bassin.
The Cloud Forests of Mauritius is perhaps one of the most endangered environments on the planet. These tiny islands in the Indian Ocean just to the east of Madagascar are known for several rare species. These islands were the only known habitat for the iconic extinct Dodo and many other species that are now on the verge of extinction. Now they are home to the last few Bois Dentelle Trees, which roughly translates into “Lace Wood,” these trees fall victim because they are not economically important, though the fruit is sometimes used for pickling as is with most of the other members of its genus. The Cloud Forest were these trees once grew wild have now been overrun by invasive species, the main culprit being the more economically important Guava tree as well as Litsea monopetala which is an evergreen and a member of the Laurel family. Guava Trees as well as Listea monopetala have heavily infested the last hill were the last two trees have been found making the preservation of the species even more important.
Bois Dentelle trees are scientifically known as Elaeocarpus bojeri and are a relative of the Bois D’olive which is used mainly for ornamental purposes in gardens and landscaping. The Elaeocarpus genus is a tropical genus where many members are characterized by small pearl like fruit. Unfortunately like the Bois Dentelle many of the members of this genus are highly endangered due to invasive species they are unable to compete physically for resources with. The Bois Dentelle produces beautiful white bell flowers having a lacy appearance that gave the tree its name. One of the two individuals left has now been transplanted to a government garden where its much easier to collect seeds. Also a grafting effort to a closely related species E. serratus has resulted in more genetic stock for the viability of this species. There were eight graft stocks taken, four from each tree in 2005. These successful grafts have been handed out to various nurseries while an example from each tree has also been planted in the Pigeon Wood nursery which is located in the Black River Gorges National Park in the country of Mauritius.
Many of the species of today are being lost because not only does the greater public not know about them but also because they are not economically important and thus not useful to humans. Not only do we have a duty to protect these species but it should be a right to future generations to fully enjoy them as well.
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