Nesocodon mauritianus – Nesocodon

Found in Southern Hemisphere Glasshouse at Chelsea Physic Garden

In the 1970s, a single population of Nesocodon mauritianus was found growing on a waterfall cliff side. It had survived there because of consistent moisture trickling from above, and limited competition from other species.

Conservationists took cuttings from this population, but had no luck growing it from the cuttings.

There was better luck in 1985, when an expedition secured 100 seeds, found in two seed capsules, thereby saving this plant from extinction.

Nesocodon maritianus contains bright red nectar, a vibrant contrast to its blue flowers.

Coloured nectar is a rare occurrence in the plant kingdom, but on the island of Mauritius there are three plant species that have this unusual characteristic.

At first scientists didn’t know why this should be, but recently they discovered geckos living in the same cliffs as the plants’ true pollinator. They believe the contrast between the bluish petals and red nectar is what really draws in the geckos.

Though the threats to this species remain to be assessed, it is fortunate that botanic gardens around the world are growing specimens as a safeguard against extinction. As scientists learn more about this plant, we will know how to better protect the few wild populations in Mauritius.

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