Tag Archives: Phylica elliptica Roxb.

Nesiota elliptica (Roxb.) Hook. f.

Saint Helena Olive (Nesiota elliptica)

This was the sole member of its genus, endemic to the island of Saint Helena in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Saint Helena Oliva was a small tree, growing up to 4 m tall; its leaves were 5 to 8 cm long and 2 to 3,5 cm wide, it had pinkish red flowers. 

The species was already almost extinct by the beginning of the 19th century, only about 15 trees survived at that time, and the species was finally considered extinct sometimes later. In 1977 a last surviving individual was discovered at Diana’s Peak, the island’s highest mountain. This last survivor, however, was afflicted by a fungal disease and it died in 1994.

There were also some attempts to safe the species by taking cuttings, respectively a cutting which died in 1997, and by producing seedlings, which was quite problematic because its flowers were nearly completely self-incompatible, so only four seedlings could be produced of which the last one – the last member of its species – died in December 2003.


Depiction from: ‘John Charles Meliss: St. Helena: A Physical, Historical, and Topographical Description of the Island, including its Geology, Fauna, Flora, and Meteorology. London: L. Reeve & Co. 1875’   

(public domain)


edited: 29.05.2021