Pygeum, prunus Africana, is a large evergreen tree native to the montane forests of Africa, as well as the high altitude rainforests of Madagascar. An important species to the health of the forest system, its fragrant white flowers are a food source for insects, while the fruit is a major food source for birds and monkeys. Humans have used the bark, leaves, and fruit for medicinal purposes for many, many years.
However, the increasing harvest of bark for commercial medicinal markets, as well as habitat loss, has led to the vast decline of the wild population. While it is possible to remove bark from pygeum sustainably, most bark removal is performed improperly, often killing large trees. This tree has been listed as an endangered species, and efforts are being made to require permits indicating that the bark was harvested from a sustainable source upon exportation and importation.
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Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat was developed and produced by The Morton Arboretum in association with the Global Trees Campaign, a partnership between Fauna and Flora International and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
Funding for this exhibit comes from The Morton Arboretum and the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services, Museums for America Grant Program.