A beautiful island country located in East Africa, Seychelles is a dream come true for all travelers who love beaches and sunshine. The island’s unique flora and fauna make it a must-see for all nature lovers. There are many species native to this archipelago island that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Like Madagascar, Seychelles is one of the most diverse places on the planet, full of wildlife and people of different origins and countries. Seychelles has one of such unique species of life jellyfish tree, which is a native plant of the island. The stories behind the history, origin and name of this plant are so amazing that you have to see it in person whenever you visit Seychelles. Read on to know all about this famous tree of Seychelles.
History of the Jellyfish Tree in Seychelles
The jellyfish tree was long thought to be extinct when it was finally rediscovered on the island of Mahé, located in the Seychelles. The tree is native to the area and was reintroduced in the 1970s. The jellyfish tree, which has been missing for almost seventy years, is considered no less than a miracle as scientists have discovered a small population of this species only in a few places on the island.
Today, scientists and botanists working in the field are working hard to keep this unique species alive. Many people have experimented with hand pollination, which has resulted in higher numbers of viable seeds in the fruits, which is good news for local conservationists.
Why was the jellyfish tree in Seychelles so named?
The tree was first named by John Gilbert Baker, who took inspiration from Medusa, a mythological figure popular in Greek mythology. The fruits of the jellyfish tree resemble the hairs on Medusa’s head. However, it is interesting that Baker did not call the plant jellyfish tree, which is its common name. In fact the name came into existence later because the fruits of the jellyfish tree resemble jellyfish in structure. These fruits are dehiscent in structure which means they have a crack that opens and releases the seeds to germinate.
In the native language this tree is called Bava Madiz. You can see this unique plant at four different places in Mahe. The total number of these living plants is approximately 86. The trees are widespread in Bernica, Mont Sebert, Mont Copolia and Mont Jasmin. This area is included within the Morne Seychellois National Park.
It is interesting that most of these trees are not able to regenerate in the wild. Since the plant requires extremely humid conditions to grow, some botanical gardens are monitoring the plant’s growth. However, it still seems a bit difficult for the plant to grow on its own in the wild.
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Interesting Jellyfish Tree Facts
Here are some interesting things you should know about this bizarre plant species in Seychelles:
1. Physical structure
This particular plant usually forms a shrub or small tree that grows up to ten meters tall. Its bark is dark, almost brown in color and rough with ridges on the surface. The plant’s leaves are usually 3 or more inches long with a shiny, slippery, leathery surface. Interestingly, as the tree ages or before the leaves fall, its leaves turn red.
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2. Fruits, Flowers and Seeds
The common jellyfish tree has both male and bisexual white flowers. Jellyfish fruits are green in the beginning and turn rustic reddish-brown over time. When the fruits dry, they open almost like a capsule, allowing the wind to blow away the seeds hidden inside the fruit. The seeds also have small wings, which help in germination.
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3. Existential threat
It is speculated that this species originated from Gondwana, as it has various characteristics seen in plants from dry climates. However, most of these plants are located within a few miles of the ocean. The plants grow on granite slopes and are today in danger of extinction given the limited geographical area where they can be found. Additionally, jellyfish tree fruits contain seeds that have a very short lifespan, and are unable to develop in the wild. For these reasons this plant is regularly included in the list of endangered plants.
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how to reach seychelles
Located in East Africa, the island archipelago is actually located in the western Indian Ocean. If you are an international traveller, you can reach Seychelles by taking a flight to the country’s primary airport. The airport located in the capital of Victoria is called Seychelles International Airport, which connects the country with almost all major cities in the world.
Various major airlines like British Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines fly to this airport. Seychelles has one more airport that serves domestic passengers, connecting different parts of the island. If you’re in the mood for adventure, you can even take a cruise around the continent. Victoria again has a major port. There are many valleys connecting different parts of the island that you can enjoy while exploring Seychelles.
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The beautiful island country of Seychelles is worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. The jellyfish tree attracts hundreds of visitors and enthusiasts to the country every year and dazzles them with its unique features and incomparable beauty. If you want to book a trip to Seychelles soon, let us know and we will create the perfect itinerary to give you a relaxing holiday experience!
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