Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hibiscus fragilis

Hibiscus fragilis | Augerine, Mandrinette

Hibiscus fragilis is one of the original species (from Hibiscus section Lilibiscus) that was used in the development of many of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars found today. Lamentably, the Mandrinette is one of the many critically endangered plant species unique to the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. This species is endemic to Mauritius and Réunion Islands, however it is now considered extinct on Réunion. Conservation status is listed as critically endangered (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). In the wild, this species was thought to have been reduced to only ten plants (in the Corps de Garde Mountains of Mauritius) until more recently, 26 new plants were discovered on the top of Le Morne Brabant, one of the island's highest mountains (Le Morne Brabant is a peninsula with a summit of 556m, located at the extreme south-western tip of Mauritius).

In nature, Hibiscus fragilis is found in exposed locations of mountainous areas (subtropical/tropical dry habitats). This highly ornamental, evergreen shrub has pink to carmine red flowers and deep green glossy foliage. As compared with the majority of modern Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars, Hibiscus fragilis has relatively small flowers, and leaves that feel thicker and rougher to the touch. Despite its Latin name, fragilis (meaning ‘easily broken, breakable, brittle or fragile’), this upright growing shrub has stems and branches that are quite flexible, as compared to most Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars.

Regeneration in its natural habitat is poor, due to introduction of alien species, however Hibiscus fragilis is easily propagated by cuttings and seeds. The continued survival of this species depends upon successful management of the wild populations, and ongoing propagation of known cultivated sources.

Reference: El mandrinitte (Hibiscus fragilis) es un hermoso arbusto de flores rojas, que se encuentra exclusivamente en las islas Mauricio, situadas a unos 900km de Madagascar. En la actualidad su población se reduce a unas 20 plantas adultas situadas en una reducida área montañosa y una segunda población de 26 plantas, hallada recientemente en la cima de la montaña Morne Brabant, en la misma isla. No se está regenerando, probablemente por la competencia de especies introducidas. La única esperanza de supervivencia de esta plant es manejar las dos poblaciones silvestres conocidas mediante la erradicación de competidores exóticos y la repoblación artificial de áreas, si fuera necesario. Segun la Lista Roja del UICN se halla en Peligro crítico.

Translation: The Mandrinitte (Hibiscus fragilis) is a beautiful red flowered shrub found exclusively on the islands of Mauritius, located about 900km from Madagascar. Presently, its population is reduced to approximately 20 adult plants in a small mountainous area and a second population of 26 plants, recently discovered at the top of Mt. Morne Brabant, on the same island. It is not being regenerated, probably due to competition from introduced species. The only hope for survival of this plant is manage the two known wild populations by eradicating exotic competitors and the restocking of areas, if necessary. According to the IUCN Red List is in Critical Danger.

   Enciclopedia de la Ecología y la salud
   By José A Valtueña
   Published by Editorial Safeliz, 2002