Rescuing a species

Rescuing a species

Genetics, physiology and ecology reveal ways to conserve the faveiro-de-wilson, a rare tree that has become a symbol of Minas Gerais endurance




© FERNANDO M. FERNANDES / FZB – Rare sight: one of the 219 specimens of faveiro identified in nature

A rare leafy tree of the Cerrado savannah in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, notable for its clusters of yellow flowers and seed pods that exude a sweetish scent, has seen its prospects for conservation improve. Since barely a decade ago, when only about 20 specimens were counted, the faveiro-de-wilson (Dimorphandra wilsonii) has now become better known. In recent years, its genetic diversity has been mapped, its enemies identified, and more than 200 specimens found in nature. These findings increase the chances of preventing the disappearance of the species.

The work of understanding what was happening to this naturally rare tree relatively new to science—it was not described until 1969—began in 2003 through the efforts of researchers from the Belo Horizonte Zoo-Botanic Foundation (FZB-BH). The project attracted the interest of teams at other centers and made the plant a symbol of Minas Gerais endurance. Read more.