Named for its three-lobed leaves, the Trident Maple is popular as an ornamental tree, whose leaves mature from rich green in summer to red, yellow and orange in winter.
The Taiwanese Trident Maple is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’, with its natural habitat being threatened by land clearance for housing, as well as by logging for timber. It is not alone: a 2016 report by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew highlights that 21% of global plant species are currently threatened with extinction.
In the face of this crisis, the world’s botanic gardens can serve as an insurance policy to safeguard the world’s most threatened plant species. Fundamentally, there is no technical reason why plant species should become extinct, given the array of conservation techniques such as seed banking, cultivation, tissue culture, assisted migration, species recovery and ecological restoration. However, once a plant has become locally extinct, reintroduction is difficult and often unsuccessful.