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Re: [aroid-l] Dracunculus canariensis

  • Subject: Re: [aroid-l] Dracunculus canariensis
  • From: "Ron Iles" roniles@eircom.net
  • Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002 01:29:54 +0100

Thank you Bjorn & Sean for revealing the present occurence of Dracunculus
canariensis, one of the two "Dragon Arums" & some data of it in the wild.
As Deni Bown (Aroids - Plants of the Arum Family) writes that on page 133
the IUCN Red Book states that in 1997 it was vulnerable.  Deni mentions that
the inflorescence apparently has a semen like odour.  I thought this quoted
information might be of interest to those who are symbolically passionate
about phalloids.   Although I have no such interest in the genus I might be
enthusiastic to look for the species & other pflora & fauna with any other
interested folks later in the year in Islas Canarias to see the current
situation & if necessary save some maybe last material of definitive origin.
I do not know what present floral & faunal conservation efforts are in the
now intensively exploited "tourist" Islands.  Over the past thirty years
mass tourism in the Canary Islands has exploded with seeming almost anywhere
being "ripe" for building.   When one remembers the unspoiled islands
earlier with no "mass tourism" it is to me, it is most tragic.

On a little seashore hill near El Medano three decades ago I found
incredible succulents & since the huge dune mound there is still undeveloped
because it is maybe unsuitable for "disco" development I think they may
still be there.  The temperate-subtropical habitats of the islands are ideal
for a very wide range of aroids & so many other flora & fauna.  Indeed what
temperate, mediterranean, sub-tropical & tropical species still grow there
in the many parts not trodden by crass modern tourism?  It would be
wonderful to find out.   Virtually ANYTHING can grow in the rich warm
volcanic soil there from xerophytes to Spathiphyllum!

So - It is wonderful to have alerts of where vulnerable wild species are so
that they can be most responsibly collected & saved before extinction of
habitat for posterity.  This surely is but one of the many key & enlightened
roles in which co-ordinated Members of our International Society can be of
priceless service to posterity?

Thank You Sean & Bjorn.   Style!

Ron Iles Ireland

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bjørn Malkmus" <malkmus@gmx.net>
To: <aroid-l@lists.ncsu.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2002 9:41 PM
Subject: Re: [aroid-l] Dracunculus canariensis

Dear Sean,

> (...) Since this is such a good
> plant for mediterranean climates (my horticultural focus) I'd like to
> collect more information about its nativity, habitat, etc., and any other
> anecdotal information that might be interesting.

Dracunuclus canariensis is native of all western Canary Islands (El Hierro,
La Gomera, La Palma, Tenerife) including Gran Canaria. It is becoming
increasingly rare in nature. And as far as I was able to discover on various
occasions in the last 10 years, only on the island of Tenerife there are a
couple of
"larger" populations left with some 20 to 50 individuals each. From these
three major populations (with some 120 specimens altogether) vanished on
grounds of land cleaning and construction areas in the last seven years
alone (if I
had known this, I would have digged them all, but landscape is changed just
too suddenly). On El Hierro, La Gomera and La Palma the species seems to be
close to extinction, as from these islands there have been reported only
single specimens or populations with few individuals each. It was reported
Madeira only once some decades ago from two sites, east and west
of the capital Funhcal in the south, and these sites where it was said to be
growing are now paved and built with houses by the rapidly expanding city,
thus it should be regarded extinct on this island. Its possible habitat on
Azores is completely degraded, and as far as I know it had never been
localized there with certainty, but the locality was stated erroneously.
There are
only very few, highly vulnerable populations with few individuals (less than
each) on the island of Gran Canaria, the most degraded island of this
archipelago in the sense of deforrestation and soil erosion.

Dracunculus canariensis usually inhabits the more fertile and slightly moist
soils in open scrub formations in the south parts or open spots in the
laurel forest zone in the center or the north, and especially these sites
widely used for plantations and/or are cleaned for ongoing housing
on the Canaries. On the other hand local people sometimes cut down the
and/or seed heads, as they believe that the plant will bring them bad luck
(imagine this in the 21 century in Europe ...). Fortunately this species
increases not only by means of seeds, but by stonoloniferous offsets as
especially in rich and moist soils. And in cultivation it increases very
well by
seeds, however in the northern hemisphere it is not widely grown as it is
summer dormant and winter green, i.e. it has to be grown under frostfree
conditions in a cool wintergarden or slightly heated greenhouse.

Best wishes

Bjørn Malkmus

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