A rare shrub that is extinct in the wild will soon grow outdoors at one of the Great Gardens of Cornwall thanks to a specimen sourced by 18th Century plant hunters.

Franklinia alatamaha, a native plant of the Alatamaha River Valley in Georgia, USA, died out in the wild in the 1800s but a specimen that was sent back to The Trewithen Estate, near Probus, has since been propagated and is on course to be re-introduced to the gardens.

Trewithen's Nursery Manager, Luke Hazelton, has successfully encouraged the plant to flower again this year, which is unheard of in this country, and, whilst the Cornish climate is too cold for it to flower outdoors, he is hopeful it will grow successfully.

He said: "An original Franklinia alatamaha plant used to grow within the gardens but a really cold winter killed it off about eight years ago. Luckily cuttings were taken before it died and since then we have been propagating it in order to create stock. We're also sending them out to plant connoisseurs including at The Royal Botanic Garden, Kew.

"It will be really significant to plant a Franklinia alatamaha back in the garden knowing that it has come from original stock and is part of the history of the gardens."

The Franklinia alatamaha produces fragrant, cup-shaped snow-white blooms and can grow to around 10m tall.

ENDS 06 September 2012

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