A compatible woman can be hard to find

2006-11-20

in Books and literature, Science

Tolkien fans will recall that the Ents (a mythical species of animated trees) consist entirely of males, with the females having been lost at some forgotten point in the distant past. It seems that there is an actual tree species (Encephalartos woodii) in a similar predicament. Only four stems were ever found in the wild, in 1895, and the last of those died in 1964. All surviving examples are clones of that last plant, and no females are known to exist anywhere in the world. Both the clones and their seeds are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

People in the vicinity of London can see one of the clones at the Kew Botanical Gardens.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 20, 2006 at 4:37 pm

On the ecological front, it is the time of Japan’s annual dolphin massacres.

Milan November 20, 2006 at 6:28 pm

Anonymous,

That seems pretty much entirely unrelated, though it is certainly disturbing.

Sarah November 20, 2006 at 8:16 pm

I do indeed recall the plight of the Ents and always presumed it was a metaphor that I failed to understand. In any case, it is intriguing to hear such a thing has actually occured and that Kew is related. Would you be interested in a trip to Kew? I’ve been once (in spring) and would like to go again since there is an astonishing amount to see.

Milan November 20, 2006 at 8:22 pm

I would be up for a trip to Kew. Learning a bit more botany is always welcome and such places are a nice temporary escape from winter.

Given that I have two good friends named Sarah who will be in London in the near future, it would be helpful to know which is proposing this trip.

Seth November 21, 2006 at 11:24 am

Perhaps there is yet hope for rediscovering the entwives. It’s interesting to find an analogue of sorts in our world. If only trees could talk.

I don’t think I’ve heard of the Kew Gardens before, I’ll have to investigate at some point.

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