Saving Magnolia


At the San Francisco Botanical Garden, Ryan, Botanic Garden Curator, and Brendan, Director of Visitor Experience, talk about their latest project, funded by The Botanist and BGCI. To support them in their mission of conserving rare magnolias through grafting, the garden has received vital funding from the Global Botanic Garden fund, which was set up to promote conservation practices, policy and education and infrastructure development.

The grafting project seeks to develop protocols for grafting wild collected threatened Magnolia species.  A number of gardens across the United States will work together to propagate 27 accessions from 23 species of Magnolia. These trees will be added to each gardens’ collection, boosting numbers and diversity and increasing their chances of survival.

The team at San Francisco took the cuttings before sending to the JC Raulston Arboretum, North Carolina, who are part of the Global Consortium for Magnolias, along with plants from Atlanta Botanical Garden and UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Some of these species have no data or protocols so the project is breaking new ground in terms of providing data and a replicable model.

There are 23 taxa of magnolia trialed, some of which did not graft successfully, however many of these are in good health. The project’s success therefor, hinges on taking the right cuttings at the right time of year. However, if successful, the teams will have established a model that could be extended across more gardens within the region, providing a high impact, and low risk programme for preventing the extinction of these beautiful trees.

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