In the last 250 years, almost 600 species of plants have become extinct on the planet. It is an alarming figure, which unfortunately points in our direction when it comes to finding culprits. The human being seems responsible for the enormous number of botanical extinctions in recent decades, usually due to actions such as massive logging, deforestation, the appropriation of land for agriculture or livestock activities. A good part of these species have become extinct on islands and tropical areas or those with a Mediterranean climate, as is the case of the Juan Fernández sandalwood in Chile. When it comes to extinctions, practically everyone thinks of animals, but plants have suffered and also suffer losses that deserve the same respect.
In this Green Ecologist article we are going to see 20 extinct plants, some that have recently left us and others that are extinct and also prehistoric botanical species.
The Santalum fernandezianum It was a redwood tree native to the Juan Fernández archipelago, on the Chilean coast. Its wood was highly valued for its characteristic and pleasant aroma, but from 1918 on, specimens of this tree could no longer be found.
These land plants could be found 425 million years ago, in what are now the areas of Great Britain, the US, Bolivia and Australia, among others. They were of small and thin stems, without leaves or roots and, at present, the method of fixation they used is still unknown.
In this image you can see a fossil of a cookconia plant and in the cover photo of this article you can also see it.
This plant is also called Scale tree or scale tree. I could get to exceed 30 meters high. It is known that they reproduced by spores, and that they had a soft trunk covered with a hard layer of bark. Its life expectancy is estimated around 15 years, and its extinction dates to the end of the Mesozoic era.
These trees are a genus of Equisetophyta Carboniferous. The calamites had hollow stemsThey were medium in size and reproduced by spores. Its fossils have been found in sedimentary rock remains, mainly coal.
The extinction of this plant native to Libya dates from 1st century BC. Ancient cultures such as those of the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks used the silphium plant as a contraceptive, as birth control, and to treat pain, that is, as an analgesic.Image: Allthatsinteresting
A violent volcanic eruption was what wiped out this species about 160 million years ago. It was a plant over 100 meters high, which lived in Argentine Patagonia. In this image you can see plant fossils Araucaria mirabilis.
This other species called Olive tree of Santa Elena or Nesiota it was declared extinct much more recently. Specifically, this botanical species became extinct in the wild in 1994, although it was bred in captivity until 2003. It was an endemic species of the islands of Ascensión, Tristán de Acuña and Santa Helena.
The plant Sophora toromiro was typical of Easter Island and became extinct because in the 19th century it suffered a severe deforestation at human hands. For a long time there have been projects that seek to recover it, although currently, for the moment, there are no positive results.
The palm tree known as Rapa Nui palm and scientific name Paschalococos disperta, it was a kind of great height, also from Easter Island and it became extinct in the year 1650 because of the great exploitation it suffered, both for its wood and for food.
Another extinct plant is the Franklinia alatamaha or Franklin tree. This extinct botanical species was native to the Georgia area, was discovered in 1765 and declared extinct only 75 years later.
We continue with this list of +20 species of extinct plants and we stop at another type of palm tree. The last specimen of the Cycad Wood plant He died at the Botanical Institute of the Government of Pretoria in 1964, although he had already declared extinct in the wild since 1916.
Although captive cultures of this endemic plant of the island of Menorca, in Spain, the Lysimachia minoricensis it is an extinct plant in nature due to the great loss of its habitat.
This plant was declared extinct in the wild, was endemic to India and luckily the Euphorbia Mayurnathanii it has been successfully cultivated in captivity.
This plant, which shared time with the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous 125 million years ago, was a herbaceous aquatic plant whose fossils have been found in China. The species of plants Archaefructus they are believed to be the earliest genus of flowering plants.
Various fossils of the extinct plant Cladophlebis and, thanks to them, it was discovered that they are relatives of ferns and that they inhabited the planet during prehistory, specifically in the Mesozoic and Paleozoic periods.
They inhabited the Earth about 300 million years, during the Carboniferous period. The plants Sigillary they had a tree-like appearance, with a partly flexible and probably green trunk.Image: Wikipedia
The extinct plant known as Aeonium mascaense It is a crassulaceous native to the Canary Islands, specifically the island of Tenerife, and was recently declared extinct in the wild.
This semi-shrub was typical of Tenerife and was last detected in the wild in 1984. Therefore, since then it has been considered that the Normania nava is one of the extinct plants of the last decades.
The Acacia prismifolia it was a shrub native to Western Australia, the last wild specimen of which was recorded in 1933 and was considered an extinct plant.
The Armeria arcuata It is an extinct plant and it belonged to the family Plumbaginaceae. Also, this was an endemic plant to Portugal and had small, pink flowers.
After seeing some of the extinct plants, we show you some endangered plant species:
Learn about more species in this situation in this other article by Green Ecologist on Plants in danger of extinction and the causes.
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