Endemics of St. Helena


The isolated Atlantic island of St Helena's harboured forty-five special plant species anad hundreds of animal for millions of years. Their ancestors colonised St Helena from prehistoric forests which have long disappeared from the world's continents, so casting St Helena's plants and animals as fragments from the wreck of an ancient world. None are found anywhere else in the world and they are said to be endemic.

Tangled endemic tree ferns form the thickets covering St Helena's highest peaks, raching up to 823 metres above sea level. Most of the endemic species seek refuge in the dense thickets, which are now protected in St Helena's very first National Park. Endemic trees living amongst the tree ferns are descended from trees of the humid forests of Africa from the Miocene age, more than 10 million years ago. They are of exceptional interest to scientists trying to understand the evolution of species.

Sadly, the unique vegetation of St Helena has been devastated since man's discovery of the island merely 500 years ago. Our endemic 'fragments' now live on the verge of extinction in real fragments of vegetation from the wreck of St helena's demolished forests. Almost all of the remaining endemic vegetation is in patches of tree fern thicket around Diana's Peak. Unfortunately a steady march of exotic plants is over-running these patches: work to reverse the invasion and rescue the endemic fragmnets from extinction is urgent and is now under way.

These are the words from the newly launched endemic poster. Here you can find more about the endemic species of St Helena, such as 'Black Cabbage Tree', 'Jellico', 'Dogwood' and 'Golden Sail Spider'. Much more can be found in this descriptive poster.

Order your own copy by sending 2 UKP to:

Endemic Section of the Agriculture and Forestry Department
St Helena
South Atlantic Ocean

Telephone: +290 4724
Fax: +290 4603

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