Saving an Endangered Tree
In accordance with the Royal Botanic Garden’s goal to conserve threatened native plants, the RBG Plant Nursery is targeting specific species for propagation and conservation.
One such plant is Moringa peregrina, a rare tree in Jordan.
The Moringa peregrina tree, also known as Moringa aptera, Al Yassar and Al Ban, can be found in arid areas like Wadi Araba and near the Dead Sea.
After flowering, it develops long pods that contain a number of seeds arranged in a row. The Bedouins boil the seeds and extract a sort of oil that is used in their diets.
This tree is very much endangered because the Bedouins let their goats browse on it and eat all green parts. Plus it is likely used as one of the Bedouin’s sources of wood for cooking and warmth in winter.
Seed Collection and Propagation
The RBG did some preliminary research to determine the location of Moringa peregrina trees in Jordan and the best time for collecting mature seeds.
We chose the Zara area of the Dead Sea as our target site, and knew that we needed to go seed collecting between July and October.
On August 11, 2010, an RBG team set off for Zara to collect seed pods.
The branches of the Moringa peregrina are easily broken. To avoid damaging the trees, the RBG staff did not climb any trees. Instead, they used long poles with hooks at the end to gently pull branches down and bring the seed pods within reach.
The staff separated the seeds from the pods, and then took the seeds to the Royal Botanic Garden. Some of the seeds have been stored in the RBG Seed Bank, and some were sown in the Plant Nursery.
This first phase of conservation and propagation has been successful, as we currently have about 200 Moringa peregrina seedlings growing in our Nursery.