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Just one look at the flowers and you will understand why the Medusagyne oppositifolia is nicknamed the Jellyfish Tree. This extremely rare and endangered tree produces small white flowers that resemble jellyfish.
The tree is so rare, it is the only member of its family! It was once thought to be extinct until the 1970s when several trees were discovered. The Jellyfish Tree is an endemic and can only be found on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles, just off mainland Africa. Today, less than 30 of these trees exist in the world and they are on the brink of extinction.
The Jellyfish Tree are small trees that can reach a height of 10m tall. The Jellyfish tree has shiny green, leathery leaves that turn bright red over time. The female reproductive parts of the flower resemble jellyfish tentacles, hence the nickname. The fruits start off as round and green and gradually turn reddish brown over time and then dries to expose the seeds within.
The seeds are spread by wind, which is highly unusual for plants native to oceanic islands, since the seeds will just blow into the sea. That being said, it is one of the reasons why this tree is on the endangered list, as the seeds are unable to germinate. The reasons are still unclear as this point.
There are are some trees that have been successfully cultivated in conservatories and botanic gardens, but there are still many questions that need answers. Further research is required to find out why the Jellyfish Tree is becoming extinct.