Plant Conservation Initiative at the Botanical Garden:
On the 1st of March 2017, Headstart Preschool undertook a field trip to the Botanical Garden in Kingstown to tour the grounds and learn some more information about the research taking place within the Garden. Twenty two students and three teachers were in attendance to learn about the propagation techniques being used for the Soufriere tree, which is the national flower of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There is currently only 1 known specimen of this tree in existence, which is found at the Botanical Garden.
In January of 2017, Mr. Gordon Shallow, the Curator of the Botanical Garden at the National Parks, Rivers, and Beaches Authority commenced a plant propagation program with grant funding support from the SVG Preservation Fund for the “Lignum Vitae and Soufriere tree as flagship species for conservation and biodiversity preservation” in an attempt to re-introduce and promote the sustainability of these two very significant species. There are two methods being used to propagate the Soufriere tree, live cutting propagation and air layering. The live cutting method involves removing a fresh branch from the living tree, applying rooting hormone to the branch, and transplanting this branch into a growth medium. Research suggests that the branch will sprout its own roots and eventually become its own sapling. The second method, air layering, involves removing the bark (including the outer cambium of xylem and phloem) while a branch is still on the actual tree, applying root hormone to the exposed area, and covering the area with a growth medium (potting soil) then covering with foil or plastic. Research again suggests that the exposed area will sprout roots. Once the branch sprouts its own roots it can then be transplanted to a different location and begin growing on its own.
The students from Headstart preschool were exposed to the various methods of propagation and were allowed to tour the Botanical Garden, including the nursery where the transplanted saplings are located. The students were able to identify the Soufriere tree saplings and learned about the importance of the tree to the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Students stand under the only Soufriere tree currently found on St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Students learning about the Soufriere tree flower
Students successfully identify the transplanted Soufriere tree saplings