Wellington Botanical Gardens Memorial Register
Elingamita johnsonii - Treehouse opening

photographed by P C Tomlinson on 10/05/10

photographed by P C Tomlinson on 10/05/10

photographed by P C Tomlinson on 10/05/10

Elingamita johnsonii

threatened plant from

the Three King Islands

planted by Sir David Attenborough

to commemorate the opening of the

Botanic Garden Education and Environment Centre

30 April 1991


By main entrance of the Treehouse


Elingamita johnsonii is an endangered species known only from West Island of the Three Kings, in a small and inaccessible islet that preserves a fragment of the pristine forest that once covered much of the Island. It was not until January 1950 that the enterprising Major Magnus Johnson landed alone and made the first botanical collections. The following year Dr Baylis accompanied Major Johnson and found that the islet harboured a relatively rich flora, although Thomas Cheeseman, in sailing past West Island described it as,"... on the whole presenting a barren appear­ance and little more than bare rock".

One product of the fieldwork by Johnson and Baylis was the discovery of Elingamita johnsonii a previously undescribed species and genus of the family Myrsinaceae. Only about 12 trees are known and they are all confined to windswept scrub near the top of cliffs below where the steamer Elingamita foundered in 1900 with great loss of life.

Seed germinates well and the species is growing in several parts of New Zealand so that the opportunity exists to raise young plants and take these back to West Island to replenish the small population there.

category: plants - commemorative