The Saint who risked all to rescue a plant

The day Charlie Benjamin climbed up a cliff with a flower in his teeth may become part of ¬†St Helena folklore. That perilous act brought back the island’s ebony plant from apparent extinction. There has since been talk of declaring it the national flower. Charlie’s daughter, Wendy Benjamin, wants to ensure the story of his […]

Kew man keeps hope alive for extinct St Helena Olive

Plant experts still hope to rediscover the St Helena Olive, the unique island tree that was declared lost in 2003 – for a second time. The stubby tree was presumed extinct until island naturalist George Benjamin discovered a single specimen in 1977. That one wild tree died in 1994, and the species became extinct when¬†cultivated […]

Vandals hack wood from Peak Dale gumwoods

Timber has been illegally sawn from protected gumwood trees at Peak Dale on St Helena. A 2011 law makes it illegal to take, damage or kill endangered species, including the island’s unique gumwood trees. It will also be illegal under new environmental legislation currently being drafted. The latest environmental management newsletter says: “The removal of […]

Treading carefully: experts walk miles for new plant books

Three new books are to be published on St Helena’s unique plant life – including some “celebrated evolutionary curiosities”. They are the result of four years of work and several hundred miles of walking by members of the St Helena Nature Conservation Group, scouring 157 individual grid squares covering the entire island. The new field […]

Rare island woodlouse is ‘just hanging on’, says expert

St Helena’s unique Spiky Yellow Woodlouse species is struggling to survive, a comment by visiting expert Dr Roger Key has suggested. The plight of the “amazing little creature” was noted back in 2003, when Dr Rebecca Cairns-Wicks of St Helena National Trust said it was “not as common as it was just ten years ago”. […]

George Benjamin: the man who saved the St Helena ebony

George Benjamin had already discovered the last surviving St Helena Olive tree when, in 1980, he spotted an unusual plant on a cliff. It turned out to be one of the island’s “lost” endemic plants: the St Helena (dwarf) ebony, now widely re-established on the island. George died on 30 April 2012. BASIL GEORGE has […]