Another critically endangered crop wild relative

Like London busses in days of old, the IUCN’s endangered species doodad is featuring another crop wild relative just days after the previous one. This time it is Ramosmania rodriguesii, a somewhat distant relative of coffee, at one time reduced to a single tree on the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues.

RBG Kew has been propagating the plant, and has this to say about its uses:

Locals on Rodrigues believe that a tea made from the leaves of café marron is an invigorating drink that can treat venereal diseases and hangovers, although this has not been scientifically proven. An even more fanciful story is the ability of café marron to prevent children from having nightmares, but only if the child’s cuddly toy is thrown at the plant!

Café marron clearly hasn’t had much opportunity to contribute to coffee breeding programmes — it only set its first seed after being brought into captivity in 2003 — but you never know.

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