Extinct rainforest plants

Written by cathryn whitehead
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Extinct rainforest plants
Since rainforest plants have a symbionic relationship, extinction affects many species. (new zealand rainforest image by Spencer Stoner from Fotolia.com)

Rainforests are found in the Amazon Basin of South America, Central America, Mexico, Hawaii, Caribbean islands, parts of Western Africa, South Pacific countries and Pacific islands and West African countries. Because many of these plants are found only in one location, clearing and burning of rainforests for farming, grazing, logging and building causes many rainforest plants to become extinct. The International Union for Conservation of Nature warned that over 800 species have disappeared over the past 500 years and nearly 17,000 more are in danger of becoming extinct.

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Rio de Janeiro Pouteria

Pouteria is a genus of flowering tree with hard, heavy wood that grows in rainforests around the world. Used as firewood, timber and in naval construction, Pouteria had an edible fruit that was consumed by many animals as well as people. Pouteria stenophylla grew in the hills of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's coastal forest and have become extinct due to over-harvesting and loss of habitat.

Juan Fernandez Santalum

Santalum, or sandalwood, is a sweet-smelling flowering tree with many species that grew in rainforests in India, Australia, South America, Indonesia and Hawaii. The tree was harvested extensively for medicinal use and to make furniture, decorative objects, perfume, sawdust and, because of its scent, incense. Four species that grew in the Hawaiian Islands have become endangered, while the species Santalum fernandezianum, commonly known as Juan Fernandez Santalum which grew on Chile's Juan Fernandez Island has been extinct since 1916.

St. Helena Olive Tree

The island of St. Helena in the southern Atlantic Ocean was home to the St. Helena Olive Tree, or Nesiota elliptica. This small tree had many dark brown to black branches, oblong, dark green leaves with curved tips and flowers that bloomed on stalks no higher than the leaves from June to October. The Saint Helena Olive trees became extinct due to loss of habitat when they were cut down for timber and to make room for grazing land and plantations. The Environmental Conservation Section of Scotland tried planting seeds and growing a cutting from the last surviving tree, but efforts were not successful, and the last surviving St. Helena Olive tree died in 2003.

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