A Chilean beauty in danger

Visitors sitting outside The Stables at Knightshayes, Devon

The stunning evergreen climber 'Berberidopsis corallina' is seriously threatened in Chile where commercial forestry has all but decimated its native habitat.

The Chilean coral plant, as it is also known, was collected for the Veitch Nurseries by Richard Pearce in 1862, and its crimson bell-shaped flowers have captivated plant enthusiasts ever since.
 
Unfortunately it is not fully hardy in our climate and usually fails to produce viable seed, resulting in widespread vegetative propagation.
 
The subsequent lack of genetic diversity among cultivated 'Berberidopsis corallina' in Britain, coupled with the plant’s near extinction in the wild, has spurred a team from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to gather seed from the endangered Chilean plants.
 
This wild-source material has entered a conservation programme and will eventually be distributed to properties such as Knightshayes Court, where the Plant Conservation Programme can assist in ensuring its continued presence in National Trust gardens.