Concerns about the flora of the Pitcairn Islands revealed by a postal issue

Concerns about the flora of the Pitcairn Islands revealed by a postal issue

The flora of the Pitcairn Islands consists of 81 species, of which 10 are endemic. IUCN Red List threat categories show that over 60% of the indigenous flora is threatened within the Island, and over 20% is threatened globally. The main threats affecting the flora and vegetation are posed by habitat clearance, spread of invasive species such as the Rose Apple Syzygium jumbos, small population sizes or restricted distribution, erosion, and lack of fruit-eating birds. Addressing these threats by means of a system of nature reserves, species-specific recovery plans and control of invasive species and erosion will start to combat these problems. The Island Council is aware of these concerns and is working on corrective measures.

This stamp issue focuses on a small sample of Pitcairn taxa and shows a cross section from the very rare to the abundant:

Cerbera manghas also known as the sea mango, is an evergreen coastal tree growing up 12 m tall and often associated with mangrove forests.

Portulaca lutea is a prostrate, perennial, succulent herb. With wide distribution from New Caledonia eastwards to Pitcairn Island, it is found in coastal areas from sea level to around 40 metres.

Canna sp. grows on Pitcairn to a height of 1-2M and has bright yellow-orange flowers with large broad-bladed solid green leaves.

Chamaesyce sparrmannii is extremely rare on Pitcairn with just one plant being found in sheltered crevices of basalt coastal rocks of Bounty Bay and a few more samples in the west of the Island. The plant exhibits a prostrate form and is distinguished by minute red pollen tips on the stamen which protrude from tiny white flowers.

Botanica Coprosma benefica or Red Berry as it is known on Pitcairn, is one of nine plants endemic to the Island. C.benefica is a small tree with reasonably large, evergreen leaves. The fruit is a non-poisonous juicy berry containing two small seeds. Coprosma is related to the coffee plant.

Pandanus tectorius is well-known for its distinctive trunk and root system. Growing up to 12 meters in height, the single trunk forks at a height of 4-8 meters and is propped up by roots that firmly anchor the tree to the ground. With long leaves, P. tectorius exhibits different male and female flowers.

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