Sophora toromiro

Sophora toromiro, commonly known as Toromiro, is a species of flowering tree in the legume family, Fabaceae, that is endemic to Easter Island. Heavy deforestation had eliminated most of the island's forests by the first half of the 17th century, and the once common toromiro became rare and ultimately extinct in the wild in the 1960s.[2]

Sophora toromiro
Scientific classification
S. toromiro
Binomial name
Sophora toromiro
Sophora toromiro: flower
Sophora toromiro: seed

The tree is being reintroduced to the island in a scientific project partly led jointly by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Gothenburg Botanical Garden, where the only remaining plants of this species with a documented origin were propagated in the 1960s from seeds collected from a single tree by Thor Heyerdahl. It is sometimes claimed that all toromiro trees are derived from this single individual, but research has determined that at least one other tree's descendants survive (Maunder et al., 2000).

Local tradition has it that the rongorongo tablets of Easter Island are made of toromiro. However, all tablets of native wood tested by modern methods have turned out to be Thespesia populnea, known as miro in some Polynesian languages.[2] David Attenborough, in his book, Life on Air (page 236), describes the timber from which a small wooden male sculpture in his possession having been identified by Kew Gardens as Sophora toromiro.

The Jardin du Val Rahmeh, a botanical garden in Menton in the south of France, is dedicated to the acclimatization and conservation of rare species, including Sophora toromiro.


  1. ^ World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1998). "Sophora toromiro". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 1998: e.T30392A9535225. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1998.RLTS.T30392A9535225.en. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Orliac, Catherine (2005). "The Rongorongo Tablets from Easter Island: Botanical Identification and 14C Dating". Archaeology in Oceania. 40 (3).
  • Maunder, M et al. (2000): Conservation of the Toromiro Tree: Case Study in the Management of a Plant Extinct in the Wild. Conservation Biology 14(5): 1341–1350.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Sophora toromiro at Wikimedia Commons   Data related to Sophora toromiro at Wikispecies