A beautiful island country located in East Africa, Seychelles is a dream come true for all the travelers who love beaches and sunshine. The unique flora and fauna of the island also make it a must for all nature lovers. There are many species native to this archipelago island, which you can not find anywhere in the world. Just like Madagascar, Seychelles is one of the most diverse places on the planet, full of wildlife and people of different origins and countries. One of such unique species of life in Seychelles is the Jellyfish Tree, which is a native plant to the island. The stories behind the history, origin, and name of this plant are so wonderful that you have to witness it whenever you visit Seychelles in person. Read on to know everything about this famous tree in Seychelles.
History Of The Jellyfish Tree In Seychelles
The Jellyfish tree was long assumed to be extinct when it finally was rediscovered on Mahe Island located in Seychelles. The tree is native to this area and was spotted again back in the 1970s. Missing for almost seventy years, the Jellyfish tree is considered nothing short of a miracle as scientists discovered a small population of the species only at a few places on the island.
Today, the scientists and botanists working in the area are trying hard to keep this unique species alive. Many have experimented hand pollination which has caused greater numbers of viable seeds in fruit, good news for the local conservationists.
Why Was The Jellyfish Tree In Seychelles Named So?
The tree was first named ‘Medusagyne’ by John Gilbert Baker who took inspiration from Medusa, the popular mythical figure in Greek mythology. The fruits of the Jellyfish tree resemble the hair on Medusa’s head. However, it is interesting that Baker did not call the plant the Jellyfish tree, which is its general name. This name in fact later came later into being as the Jellyfish Tree fruits resemble a jellyfish in structure. These fruits are dehisced in the structure which means they have a fissure which opens up and releases seeds to germinate.
In the native tongue, the tree is called Bwa Mediz. You can spot this unique plant at four different places in Mahe. The total number of these surviving plants is around 86. The trees are spread over Bernica, Mont Sebert, Mont Copolia and Mont Jasmin. The area is included under the Morne Seychellois National Park.
It is interesting how most of these trees are not able to regenerate in the wild. As the plant needs extremely humid conditions to grow, a few botanical gardens are overseeing the growth of seedlings. However, having the plant grow on its own in the wild still seems a bit difficult.
Suggested Read: Witness The Best Of Nature At These 10 Seychelles National Parks
Interesting Jellyfish Tree Facts
Here are some intriguing things you should know about this bizarre plant species in Seychelles:
1. Physical Structure
This particular plant usually forms a shrub or a small tree that grows up to ten meters. Its bark is dark in color, almost grey and is rough in the surface with ridges. The leaves of the plant are usually 3 or more inches long with a shiny, slippery, leathery surface. Interestingly, its leaves acquire the color red as the tree ages or before the leaves drop.
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2. Fruits, Flowers and Seed
The usual Jellyfish tree has white flowers, both male and bisexual kind. The Jellyfish fruits are green in the beginning and with time turn to a rustic red-brown color. When the fruits dry, they open up almost like a capsule, which lets the wind blow the seeds hidden inside the fruit away. The seeds also have small wings, which is supposed to help in germination.
3. Threat to Survival
This species is speculated to have originated from the Gondwana given its various properties that are seen in dry climate plants. However, most of these plants are located within a few miles of the sea. The plants grow on granite slopes and face extinction today given the limited geographical area where they can be found. Apart from that, the Jellyfish Tree fruits have seeds which themselves have a very short lifespan, and seem unable to grow in the wild. These reasons have led in making this plant a regular feature on the endangered plants' list.
How To Reach Seychelles
Located in East Africa, the island archipelago is in fact situated in the Western Indian Ocean. You can reach Seychelles by taking a flight to the primary airport in the country if you are an international traveler. The airport located in the capital city of Victoria is called Seychelles International Airport, which connects the country to almost all the major cities in the world.
Different premier airlines like British Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines fly to this airport. There is another airport in Seychelles which caters to domestic travelers, connecting different parts of the island. If you are in the mood for adventure, you can also take a cruise around the continent. Victoria again has the main seaport. There are many ferries connecting different sections of the island which you can enjoy while exploring Seychelles.
The beautiful island country of Seychelles is worth a visit at least once in your lifetime. The Jellyfish Tree itself attracts hundreds of visitors and enthusiasts to the country every year and leaves them dazzled with its unique features and incomparable beauty. If you want to book a trip to Seychelles anytime soon, let us know and we’ll brew the perfect itinerary to give you a comfortable holiday experience!