1. Family: Rubiaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Gardenia J.Ellis
      1. Gardenia nitida Hook.

        William J. Hooker, systematic botanist and first Director of Kew, published the name Gardenia nitida in 1847. Hooker’s original description was based on a plant grown from a seed taken from a herbarium specimen collected in Sierra Leone. The first herbarium specimens of G. nitida to be deposited in Burkina Faso were collected in 1997, during a botanical exploration organised by the Ouagadougou University and the Floristic Centre of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Gardenia nitida is one of the rarest plant species in Burkina Faso.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Native to west tropical Africa, Gardenia nitida is a small tree or undershrub with woody fruits and strongly-scented flowers.

    William J. Hooker, systematic botanist and first Director of Kew, published the name Gardenia nitida in 1847. Hooker’s original description was based on a plant grown from a seed taken from a herbarium specimen collected in Sierra Leone. The first herbarium specimens of G. nitida to be deposited in Burkina Faso were collected in 1997, during a botanical exploration organised by the Ouagadougou University and the Floristic Centre of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Gardenia nitida is one of the rarest plant species in Burkina Faso.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Native to west tropical Africa, including Benin, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Burkina Faso.

    Description

    A small tree or undershrub, about 1.5-2.0 m tall, with smooth bark and glossy, dark green leaves. The strongly-scented flowers are white, turning golden-yellow, and the oblong fruits are hard and woody.

    Uses

    Gardenia nitida is sometimes planted in villages in West Africa, being thought to have sacred and protective properties. In Ghana, its wood is put on the roofs of houses to ward off lightning strikes.

    In the traditional medicine of the Krobo people in Ghana the roots are ground up with a boiled egg and given to women as an aid to conception. The ripe fruit is occasionally eaten.

    Gardenias are widely grown as exotic ornamentals - as houseplants or glasshouse plants in temperate regions, and as outdoor plants in tropical regions.

    Gardenia nitida has long been recognised as having ornamental value, especially on account of its handsome glossy, dark green leaves and fragrant flowers. William J. Hooker’s original description in 1847, for example, refers to the flowers as being ‘among the larger of the genus’ and ‘deliciously scented… the corolla is of the purest white’ and adds that this species ‘though shrubby, is eminently suited to ''pot culture”.’

    Today, G. nitidais in cultivation and can be obtained from some tropical plant nurseries.

    Seed-collecting amongst panthers and lions

    The Burkina Faso Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) Team was keen to find and collect seeds from Gardenia nitida, which is considered rare and endangered in Burkina Faso, and so the team arranged an expedition to the Folonzo and Diefoula forests in 2006. 

    Despite hours of exhausting search along the river Comoe confluences, the team was unsuccessful in its hunt for this elusive member of the coffee family. Then, during a second expedition to the area in March 2007, after walking for four hours and covering more than 10 km along the gallery forest of the Comoe-Leraba, they suddenly saw a single G. nitida tree in a dense patch of forest. After studying this tree they went on to find another, about 5 m beyond the first, and then a third about 20 m away. Despite an extensive search of the area within a 2 km radius, only five trees were found in total. Fortunately, these trees were in fruit, and so the team was able to collect seeds.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world-wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Description of seeds: Average 1,000 seed weight = 7.71 gNumber of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: OneSeed storage behaviour: Probably orthodox* (seed germinated after drying) (the seeds of this plant survive drying without significant reduction in their viability, and are therefore amenable to long-term frozen storage such as at the MSB)Germination testing: 75% of dried seeds germinated at 25ºCComposition values: Not analysed

    Herbarium specimens and conservation

    The discovery that Gardenia nitida is a distinct species was made possible by the collection and subsequent careful storage of a herbarium specimen, from which a viable seed was taken and grown on.

    Many more species may lie waiting to be discovered in this way amongst the 7 million dried plant specimens housed in Kew’s Herbarium. With current high rates of deforestation and habitat degradation there is concern that some species may become extinct before they have even been formally named by Kew’s scientists.

    The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership offers hope for an ever-growing number of species, as part of the wider conservation work of Kew.

    The details of some of these specimens can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

     

     

    Distribution
    Burkina Faso, Cuba, Ghana
    Ecology
    Due to its rarity, its habitat is not well known, but plants have been found in degraded closed forest, riverine forest and open deciduous forest.
    Conservation
    Considered rare and endangered in Burkina Faso, but not yet assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    None known.

    [FWTA]

    Rubiaceae, F. N. Hepper & R. W. J. Keay. Flora of West Tropical Africa 2. 1963

    Habit
    A glabrous shrub or small tree, to 12 ft. high
    Flowers
    Flowers white, turning yellow, fragrant, lasting only a day
    Branches
    Branchlets ashen-grey
    Fruits
    Fruits ashen-grey
    Ecology
    In drier types of forest
    Note
    Sometimes planted, in villages.
    [KSP]
    Use
    Ornamental; of sacred value to villagers in West Africa; fruit occasionally eaten.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Benin, Burkina, Ghana, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

    Common Names

    English
    Glossy-leaved gardenia

    Gardenia nitida Hook. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Malaisse, F. [14817] K000042952
    Malaisse, F. [14542] K000042953
    d'Orey, J. [380] K000042954
    Espirito Santo, J. [3004] K000042955
    Enti, A.A. [R739], Ghana K000042956
    Thomas, A.S. [D67], Ghana K000042957
    Kitson, A.E. [1134], Ghana K000042958
    Irvine, F.R. [1702], Ghana K000042959
    Adams, C.D. [5022], Ghana K000042960
    Irvine, F.R. [5476], Ghana K000042961
    Brown, T.W. [132], Ghana K000042962 Unknown type material
    Binuyo, A. [FHI41270], Nigeria K000042963
    Keay, R.W.J. [FHI25370], Nigeria K000042964
    Ejiofor, M.C. [FHI26899], Nigeria K000042965
    Latilo, M.G. [FHI34982], Nigeria K000042966
    Latilo, M.G. [FHI34025], Nigeria K000042967
    Latilo, M.G. [FHI67790], Nigeria K000042968
    Thomas, N.W. [2489], Sierra Leone K000042969
    Lane-Poole, C.E. [127], Sierra Leone K000042970
    Thomas, N.W. [934], Sierra Leone K000042971
    Scott Elliot, G.F. [4410], Sierra Leone K000042972
    Deighton, F.C. [3963], Sierra Leone K000042973
    Tindall, H.D. [66], Sierra Leone K000042974
    Jordan, H.D. [374], Sierra Leone K000042975
    King, E.L. [212b], Sierra Leone K000042976

    First published in Bot. Mag. 73: t. 4343 (1847)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] Jongkind, C. (2014) Fauna & Flora of Liberia, flowering plant species list . www.liberianfaunaflora.org.
    • [3] (2012) Boissiera 65: 1-391
    • [5] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [7] Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006) Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau . Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
    • [9] Govaerts, R. (2003) World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

    Literature

    • [2] Jongkind, C. (2014) Fauna & Flora of Liberia, flowering plant species list . www.liberianfaunaflora.org.
    • [4] Hoke, P., Demey, R. & Peal, A. (eds.) (2007). A rapid biological assessment of North Lorma, Gola and Grebo National Forests, Liberia. RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 44. Conservation International, Arlington, VA, USA.
    • [6] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [8] Ruhsam, M. (2005) Survey of all the Rubiaceae specimens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [10] Burkill, H.M. (1997). The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [11] F.T.A. 3: 102.
    • [12] Bot. Mag. t. 4343 (1847)
    • [13] Hooker, W.J. (1847). Gardenia nitida. Glossy-leaved gardenia. Curtis’s Bot. Mag. 73: tab. 4343.

    Sources

    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    [A] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [B] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [C] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [D]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [E] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [F] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0