Ornamental values

Many threatened tree species are grown ornamentally around the world. These species are often characterised by beautiful flowers, berries or leaves and are planted to improve the aesthetics of gardens worldwide. However over-demand for some of these species has led to their decline in the wild, resulting in them being threatened with extinction. Magnolia sinostellata, for example, is threatened by removal from its habitat into commercial nurseries.


Flowering Magnolia sinostellata. Credit: Professor Shouzhou Zhang/Fairylake Botanic Garden

Quiver Tree – Aloe dichotoma

Indigenous to Southern Africa, young quiver trees are often stolen from the roadside due to their high value as an ornamental plant, despite being protected by South African laws. These trees have a striking appearance and yellow flowers in the summer.

Aloe dichotoma Karoo Desert NBG, Credit: Ian Oliver/SANBI

Aloe dichotoma in the Karoo Desert National Botanic Garden. Credit: Ian Oliver/SANBI

Camellia azalea

This Critically Endangered Camellia azalea has beautiful red flowers. One of the threats is illegal collections for ornamental use. There is limited natural regeneration in the wild, which has led to population decline.

Photo of Camellia azalea by Ton Hannink

Camellia azalea in flower. Credit: Ton Hannink

The Devil’s Hand Tree – Chiranthodendron pentadactylon

This tree has iconic flowers with bright red and yellow ‘five fingered’ blooms found in Mexico and Guatemala. A Vulnerable species, the devil’s hand tree is threatened by climate change and deforestation, however it is present in many gardens across the world.


Chiranthodendron pentadactylon; the ‘devil’s hand tree’. Credit: N. Ramírez-Marcial