Plant brought back from near extinction

Thursday 27 January 2011 19.39
'Abutilon Pitcairnense' - Irish botanist conserves
'Abutilon Pitcairnense' - Irish botanist conserves

A plant thought extinct until just a few years ago may soon be returned to the wild, thanks to the intensive efforts of Irish botanists.

The last remaining 'Abutilon Pitcairnense' was found on the tiny island of Pitcairn in the South Pacific in 2002.

Cuttings brought back to Ireland by Dr Noeleen Smyth, a conservation botanist at the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, have since produced a number of plants which last year burst into flower and set seed.

Dr Smyth is now genetically fingerprinting the 2010 seedlings to see if they are in any way diverse.

If they are, it is hoped that within a year or two the plant can be returned to Pitcairn to re-establish a population in the wild.