Skip to content

Saving a Rare Tree Worlds Away

The rare Betula chichibuensis, is a type of Japanese birch, which is thought to be down to less than 50 remaining specimens in the wild. 

In 1987, Hugh McAllister, then a botanist at Ness, received several hundred B. chichibuensis seeds from a colleague in Japan. Just eight germinated. Dr. McAllister also took cuttings from these eight plants - cloning them.  Ness Botanic Gardens has distributed seeds to 36 gardens since 2009, and at least 28 gardens grow relatives of the original clones. Whilst this means there are more Betula chichibuensis growing at Ness and other botanic gardens then in the wild, a brilliant success story but it also means the gene pool of these trees is very restricted.

Now a team of British and Japanese researchers have grown around 100 seedlings at the Millennium Seed Bank Kew from seed collected on a recent expedition, the New York Times reports.  This success means a much wider gene pool for trees grown in botanic gardens and a much brighter future for the Japanese Birches.

Read the full story here. (Opens an external link)


Rare Birches

Betula  chichibuensis seedling.

04 November 2015