Magnolia coriacea is a highly threatened tree found in small populations scattered across south-eastern Yunnan Province, China and northern Vietnam. It grows within evergreen woodland habitat on limestone mountain slopes at 1,200-1,450m altitude.
Although we know very little about the ethnobotanical importance of this species, in Malipo County, China, local people believe that the tree is a symbol of good luck.
Field surveys completed by the Global Trees Campaign in China in 2005 estimated a total population of 450-500 scattered individuals remaining in the wild. At the time, these trees were believed to represent the entire global population
However further surveys, completed across the border, in northern Vietnam in 2010 led to an exciting discovery. An additional 100 M. coriacea individuals were found for the first time in three separate locations: Bat Dai Son, Du Gia and Tay Con Linh NR.
In both China and Vietnam, most of the remaining individuals occur outside of nature reserves where their habitat is badly degraded. The species is also struggling to regenerate and rarely bears fruit in the wild.
The Global Trees Campaign supported Kunming Botanical Gardens in 2008 to trial hand-pollination and germination techniques of resultant seeds as a means to bring the species into cultivation in more botanical gardens.
In Vietnam, starting in late 2013, the Global Trees Campaign is supporting its partner, the Centre for Plant Conservation (CPC), to protect the species at five key sites in northern Vietnam. Mirroring an approach taken in FFI’s primate work, Community Tree Conservation Teams recruited from local villages are being set up at each site.
Work will involve regular monitoring of M. coriacea and several other threatened species and attempts will be made to promote tree natural regeneration in the wild
The project will also work in local communities to increase knowledge of, and pride in, these unique and very rare trees and raise awareness of the regulations about their protection.
Did you know?
The makore tree (Tieghemella heckelii), itself threatened by logging, provides an important food source for forest elephants in Central Africa.