Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to Kithira, a small Greek island of 284 km² which lies opposite the eastern tip of the Peloponnese, Cape Malea, in the Ionian Sea. The taxon is known from a population near Kalamos, but it may also occur in other sites on the island. It is difficult to find not only because it is rare, but also because it is rather inconspicuous.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This perennial herb grows on sandy soil and rarely occurs in open areas. Usually its slender branches can be seen protruding from spiny cushions composed of other plant species growing in the same vegetation type.

P. helenae has a narrow ecological range. It usually grows in association with Spiny Broom (Genista acanthoclada) and Thorny Burnet (Sarcopoterium spinosum) which typically characterize "phrygana" vegetation. This vegetation type is composed largely of spiny or aromatic dwarf shrubs, growing in lowland areas on dry soils. In Greece there are several types of phrygana, depending upon grazing pressure, the incidence of fires, exposure, soils and geology. A purple tulip, the Greek endemic Tulipa goulimyi, may also be found growing in the same areas as P. helenae. Related species are Polygala venulosa and P. supina, which are Balkan endemics.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2006

Assessor/s
Latroú, G.

Reviewer/s
Strahm, W. & de Montmollin, B. (Mediterranean Island Plants Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is only presently known from a single subpopulation that occurs in a very small area. There are clear threats to the habitat and hence continuing decline is inferred.

History
  • 1997
    Vulnerable
    (Walter and Gillett 1998)
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Population

Population
Known with certainty only from a single subpopulation.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
The natural habitat of P. helenae was once cultivated. While the area is no longer used for agriculture, there is an increasing risk that it may be needed for agricultural purposes again. Should this happen then the species would probably disappear. Increased tourism also poses a threat to this plant.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Actions in Place
Legally: This species is not included in any international conventions or national legislation.

In situ: No measures taken as of yet.

Ex situ: Cultivation from seeds and attempts to transplant this species from the wild into the Botanic Garden of the University of Patras have both failed.

Actions Needed
Given that to date ex situ conservation efforts have been unsuccessful, it would seem that the best option to conserve this species is to protect and manage the area where it is known to occur. More fieldwork on Kithira is also needed to see if this species might occur in other areas.
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Wikipedia

Polygala helenae

Polygala helenae is a species of plant in the Polygalaceae family. It is endemic to Greece. Its natural habitat is Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Source[edit]


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