Erythrina, or coral trees, are well known for their spectacular flowers and are often grown ornamentally. They’re also very important in the ecosystems they belong to. Their leaves are food for caterpillars of many moth and butterfly species. Their nectar and seeds sustain numerous bird species, including a number of hummingbirds. Coral trees are also medically and culturally important to people.
While members of this genus are found throughout the tropics and subtropics, Erythrina schliebenii is no longer found anywhere. E. schliebenii was described in the 1930s from a specimen found in Tanzania. It was seen again in 1984 between Lindi and Masasi, Tanzania. Like many coral trees, it had bright red flowers. This herbarium sheet from the 30s is all we have left of E. schliebenii – it was declared extinct by the IUCN in 1994.
There might not be much you can do to directly help protect species in Tanzania, but you can help protect fragile Arctic ecosystems. There’s ANOTHER bill trying to open up the Arctic Refuge for drilling. Write a letter.