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 (Orliac, 2005), and the once common toromiro became rare and ultimately extinct in the wild. 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. (Orliac, 2005).
- 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.
- Orliac, Catherine. 2005. "The Rongorongo Tablets from Easter Island: Botanical Identification and 14C Dating." Archaeology in Oceania 40.3.
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