IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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The Lake Latumba Erythrina, Erythrina schliebenii, is a legume tree in the family Fabiaceae, with large flame-red flowers, thick cork bark and spiny trunks typical of the large (130 species) genus Erythrina, the “coral trees”.  This species is endemic to Eastern Africa coastal forests of Kenya and Tanzania.  This tree was discovered and collected from two locations in at Lake Latumba, Tanzania in 1934 and 1935 by German Botanist Hans-Joachim Schlieben.  However, this location was cleared for cashew orchards in 1940, and E. schliebenii, although the area was extensively searched, was not seen again.  In 2011 it was considered extinct by the IUCN.  In 2001, an expedition to the Namatimbilie inland of Kilwa, a newly found coastal forest, recovered flower specimens, which in 2011 were positively identified as Erythrina schliebenii when compared with Schlieben’s original type specimens housed at Kew Gardens.  Furthermore, the new specimens were compared with two potential conspecific species from Madagascar, confirming that E. schliebenii is indeed a distinct species.  The 12 individuals rediscovered at the Namatimbilie-Ngarama forest, 115 Km north of Lake Latumba, inhabit of rocky outcrops that are undesirable for agricultural use, and thus escaped clearing activities rampant in these coastal forests.  The single locality that E. schliebenii occurs is secure but not yet protected.  The IUCN has revised the status of E. schliebenii  as critically endangered; this species also is included in a 2012 report by the IUCN/Zoological Society of London listing the world’s 100 Most Endangered species.

(Clarke et al. 2011; Baillie and Butcher 2012; IUCN 2012; WWF 2012)


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