Mimetes stokoei seeds, endangered species

Mimetes stokoei seeds, endangered species

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Credit: CORDELIA MOLLOY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Mace Pagoda seeds. Seeds of the Mace Pagoda (Mimetes stokoei), a critically endangered South African fynbos shrub of the family Protaeceae, thought to be extinct for nearly 50 years. Discovered in 1922, it was listed extinct by 1959. A single plant appeared in 1966 in the Kogelberg Reserve near Cape Town, but was destroyed by accident and in 1969 it was declared extinct again. This species depends on ants to survive wildfire. The seeds fall to the ground and certain ants of the genus Anoplolepis (Pugnacious ants) carry them into their underground nests and feed on the outer coating. The seeds can remain buried for decades, safe from fire and predators. A very hot wildfire allows them to germinate. In 1999 an unusually hot wildfire resulted in a very small number of new plants emerging. Unfortunately they were destroyed by a subsequent fire in 2011.

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