Plant Profile: Impatiens gordonii


There are only about 120 individuals of Impatiens gordonii left on the islands of Mahe and Silhouette in the Seychelles. However, this critically endangered and threatened endemic of disturbed forest has become a poster-child for awareness-raising and conservation capacity building on these remote Indian Ocean islands.

As part of a Darwin Initiative project, a collaborative PhD project with the University of Reading, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Transport (MENRT, Seychelles), and the Eden Project, 'Ray of Hope' - a hybrid between I. gordonii and I. walleriana (a common container plant) - was produced.

By selling the plant monies raised have gone back to the conservation of the Seychelles flora including training local people and establishing vital nursery protocols for the endemic flora of the islands.

Impatiens gordonii in the wild on the seychelles

Impatiens flower

It's possible that only 120 individuals of I. gordonii are left in the wild

Impatiens 'ray of hope'

Using genetic analysis it was discovered that I. gordonii was very closely related to I. walleriana, a common container plant (and also common on Mahe).

Breeding experiments were carried out and the results were better than the team hoped for.

The result was the vigorous and beautiful hybrid 'Ray of Hope'. After some mass propagation, and permission from the Seychelles government, the plant finally went on sale at the Eden Project where it became an instant favourite with the visitors.

Under the strapline 'buy a plant and save the parents' it has provided a simple and powerful message of conservation, raising awareness, and enabling many people to access training to help them continue to serve the Seychelles and their remarkable flora.

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