NWU, Potchefstroom Campus, News: Puk ensures survival of critically endangered plant

Puk ensures survival of critically endangered plant

North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus’ Botanic Garden is the proud treasurer of a critically endangered plant species and through perseverance and hard work the survival of this plant is now ensured. The plant species,

Botaniese tuin_4105

The critically endangered plant species, Prototulbaghia siebertii, is currently cultivated and nurtured at the NWU Puk’s Botanic Garden.

Prototulbaghia siebertii, found only in a few square meters in the world, has been named after its discoverer, Prof. Stefan Siebert, a lecturer in Botany at the Puk.
  These plants, belonging to the garlic family, were collected on the Leolo mountain range in the Limpopo Province in 2008 and have been grown and nurtured at this Botanical Garden ever since.
  According to Siebert, this is not only a new species, but also a brand new genus, which makes it even far more exceptional “We do not yet know much about the plant, because it is a very isolated species. Genetic research is currently being done in Europe with a view to determine the exact position of the plant within the garlic family.”
  Erich van Wyk, a Puk alumnus, currently in the employ of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and also coordinator of the Millennium Seed Bank in South Africa, just recently visited the NWU Botanical Garden to also obtain seeds from this sought-after species for conservation purposes. According to Van Wyk, they have been approached by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, to gather some of the seeds and to come and conserve it in England. This last-mentioned garden is known for its conservation of worldwide endangered plants and fungal species.

Botaniese tuin Prototulbachia siebertii

  Martin Smit, curator of the NWU Botanic Garden, says they are surprised that the plants thrives so well in the garden’s hothouse and research plant house. “They literally flourish and even constantly bear new flowers and seeds which we can gather and conserve to ensure the survival of the plant. Meanwhile we have sent some of these plants and seeds to several Botanic Gardens worldwide and also shared our knowledge of techniques for successful cultivation so that they also can help in conserving the species.”

 Published by Kiewiet Scheppel on 10 March 2011.