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  • Radoje Laušević

Keep your eyes open

Plant Ex situ conservation examples in Zagreb, Croatia

Ex situ conservation literally means, "off-site conservation". It is the process of protecting an endangered species, variety or breed, of plant or animal outside its natural habitat; for example, by removing part of the population from a threatened habitat and placing it in a new location, which may be a wild area or within the care of humans. Ex situ management can occur within or outside a species' natural geographic range. Individuals maintained ex situ exist outside an ecological niche. This means that they are not under the same selection pressures as wild populations, and they may undergo artificial selection if maintained ex situ for multiple generations (Source: Wikipedia).

In today’s visit to the Botanical Garden of the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb I met two of such examples.

Botanical GArden Zagreb plate



Degenia is a monotypic plant genus in the mustard family containing the single species Degenia velebitica (Degen) Hayek (in Croatian: velebitska degenija).

Degenia velebitica (Degen) Hayek Photo: Radoje Laušević

Degenia velebitica (Degen) Hayek. Photo: Radoje Laušević

The yellow-flowered plant is endemic to Velebit and Kapela mountain ranges, and has become a symbol of the region. It is strictly protected in the following Natura 2000 sites: HR5000022, Croatia, Park prirode Velebit, and HR2000856, Croatia, Padine Velog vrha iznad Tomišine drage.

Degenia velebitica (Degen) Hayek area

Degenia velebitica (Degen) Hayek areal (Source: EUNIS)

As result of protection programme it is planted in the Botanical Garden in Zagreb.



Wollemia is a genus of coniferous tree in the family Araucariaceae.

Wollemia nobilis. Photo: Radoje Laušević

Wollemia nobilis. Photo: Radoje Laušević

Wollemia was only known through fossil records until September 1994, when David Noble, a Wildlife Officer with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, was bush walking and abseiling in the Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains near Blackheath, in New South Wales. It is remote series of narrow, steep-sided sandstone gorges 150 km north-west of Sydney. The National Park is named after the aboriginal word “Wollemi” meaning "look around you, keep your eyes open and watch out". David obviously was doing this when he noticed a gorge which contained a grove of very unusual trees. Having a good knowledge of botany he recognised that these trees were something different to anything he had seen before and decided to take a small fallen branch back with him for further study. What he had discovered was a new species to science which was subsequently named after him – the Wollemia nobilis. (Source:

Dr. Cathy Offord of the Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney sums up the Wollemi as follows: "Having a Wollemi Pine in the garden allows everyone to help conserve this unique endangered species." Wollemi is now grown in the Botanical Garden in Zagreb.

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