With the scientific name Elaeocarpus bojeri, this beautiful flowering tree is known for its sprays of long, white, bell-shaped flowers. It is from the delicate patterns of the flowers that the tree gets its common name: bois dentelle or “Lace Wood.”
The bois dentelle trees are found in very few places, one of which is located high in the cloud forest of the island of Mauritius, on a hill called the Piton Grand Bassin. For man years, that was the only place they were found, because only two of them were known to remain in nature.
The tree has come so close to extinction, not because it is commercially viable, but because it isn’t. Its environment is being overrun by more commercially attractive alien species such as Guava and a small evergreen shrub Litsea monopetala. The last two of these trees would also have disappeared forever, taking with them the secrets locked in their genetics, if it hadn’t been for intervention.
Since the Ministry of Agriculture and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation stepped in they have been able to save the two remaining trees, and successfully made two offspring in a tree nursery from the seeds of these trees. In December 2018, it was reported the forestry department found a few more natural-growing trees in the mountains in the north.
Despite these promising updates, the tree remains critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.