Reintroduction of Tigridiopalma magnifica, a rare and critically endangered herb endemic to China
Tigridiopalma magnifica, a perennial herb and the only species in the genus Tigridiopalma (Family Melastomataceae) is rare and endemic to China where it is categorized as Critically Endangered on the national Red List. Twelve locations with populations of T. magnifica have been identified (1 extinct, 11 extant). T. magnifica only grows in the surface soil on stone walls or rocks under the canopy of secondary forests and plantations and has no specific associated plant species. Canopy closure, soil water content and the distance to the closest stream are the main factors influencing the distribution of T. magnifica. We reintroduced T. magnifica plantlets produced by tissue culture into three locations: one within the species’ original range, and 11.5 and 400 km from the species’ original range. After 11 months survival rate was 40–58% but survival was higher and plantlet crowns were larger at the location within the species’ original range than at the other two sites. The combination of advanced propagation techniques and ecological restoration could facilitate reintroduction and conservation of T. magnifica and other rare and threatened plants. This example of the successful reintroduction of a rare, threatened herb has implications for human-assisted migration and colonization of rare plant species under future climate change scenarios.