On 30 November, Rememberance Day for Lost Species, an extinct Wynberg plant was fondly remembered on social media. But how much do we know about the Wynberg conebush?
† Leucadendron grandiflorum (Wynberg conebush)
This beautiful conebush used to grow on Wynberg Hill. It is known only from the drawing of the male plant above and was last seen in 1806 in Clapham, London, in cultivation.
It is thought to be the earliest documented extinction in South Africa, but no records exist of its ecology, habitat, extent or exact time of demise.
Its local date of extinction is thus unknown, and can be anywhere from the turn of the 18th century until recently, writes Dr Tony Rebelo of the South African Biodiversity Institute on the website iSpot.
“However, as it was not collected by collectors in the middle 18th century it was either very rare or extinct by the early 1800s,” he writes.
According to Rebelo the odds that any undiscovered seedbanks may survive under hedgerows and pine stands are exceedingly small.
“Road verges and undeveloped erven have been well searched, to no avail. This must be our earliest documented extinction in South Africa, and perhaps attributable to our Mediterranean love of wine,” Rebelo writes.