A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Thursday, August 14, 2003
Posted 6:02 PM by Luigi
Samoa’s endangered atiu vine found in Manua Isles
This recent article seems to refer to a Cucumis species.
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Aug. 9) - A native plant said to have disappeared from its natural habitat in the Manu'a islands has now reappeared.
The atiu vine, a plant with cultural significance that is thought to have vanished from natural habitats Ofu and Ta'u, are growing well on Tutuila where they never grew before. That's according to American Samoa National Park Service (ASNPS) field technician Tavita Togia.
It has been transplanted in Fagasa where it exists today although there is no written record of the atiu having grown before on Tutuila soil.
Thought to have completely died out at its natural growth areas Ofu and Tau, the vine was last collected in 1991 by noted Pacific botanist Dr. Art Whistler at the Fitiuta airstrip (Tau Island). In his book "Plants in the Samoan Culture", Whistler surmised the plant had disappeared from natural habitats on Ta'u and Ofu islands in 1991.
Ten years later in 2001, it was rediscovered at the same area by Togia.
He took the plants and replanted them in the Fagasa reforestation project immediately after, a project controlled jointly by ASNPS and the Fagasa Village Council.
Whistler had determined in 1991 that although the plant had disappeared, it still had many seeds lying dormant in the ground and needed to be disturbed to give shoot. "The soil had to be disturbed in order for the seeds to germinate and give shoot," Tavita told Samoa News. "This is exactly what happened in 2001 at the Fitiuta airstrip."
Togia said it was fortunate machinery belonging to the construction company which did work at the airstrip had provided the needed disturbing of the soil. The act may have caused the seeds lying dormant in the ground to germinate and provide shoot as it did.
The National Park technician said he shifted the plants from the Manu'a airstrip to the Fagasa Reforestation Project.
"The vines have grown well at Fagasa," Togia said "and they are the only atiu plants known to have grown on Tutuila island. There is no record of any growing on Tutuila before."
A plant of cultural significance, Whistler said it was decreasing in popularity with the people. "The plant is now rare in Samoa and the name is nearly forgotten,' he wrote.
Togia said when he took samples of the regrown plants from his discovery in 2001 to several Manu'a people for identification; he said many did not know what plant was. "Many mentioned names of other plants for the atiu, but out of close to ten people I questioned, only one was able to identify it correctly, a Manu'a man by the name of Patea," he said.
A noted member of the To'oto'o Council of Orators is named Atiulagi (atiu from/of heaven) after the plant according to Manu'a sources. Little else is known of its cultural importance.
The plant is has been reported to be one of the imports of the original Samoans in the Samoan archipelago. It is reported to have flourished in the Marquesas (Nuku Hiva), where it is called katiu (with a 'k') by the natives.
It is used as ornament, scent agent for its fragrance and food during famine. It is of the cucumber family.
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