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Thought for the Week: Jellyfish Tree

My uncle told me that he had heard a broadcast about the rare Jellyfish tree. What images I imagined! I could not get my head around it. What has a tree got to do with the creature that lives in the sea! I wonder what this name conjures up for you. In God’s amazing creation there really is such a tree....... I googled it and came up with this image! You'll have to google images of the real tree for yourself, as they seem to be subject to copyright.

This photo was something like the one I had in my mind until I realised these jellyfish were Christmas Tree decorations! So do not believe everything you see on the internet! The real tree was thought to be extinct until a few were discovered in the 1970s on one island in the Seychelles.

John Gilbert Baker, a nineteenth century botanist gave the tree the generic name Medusagyne , because he thought the reproductive parts of the flower looked like the head of Medusa, whose hair was a mass of writhing snakes in Greek Mythology. He did not see the seed case. The resemblance between this and the larval jellyfish gave the tree its vernacular name as well as the coincidence that the word medusa is also used to describe the umbrella shape of the jellyfish.

The seeds are dispersed by the wind but cannot germinate where the tree grows. Some botanic gardens have been successful in growing new plants from the collected seeds in moist conditions, which they would not get in their natural habitat. You can actually go and see one of these trees in the greenhouse in Kew Gardens. It is thought that the Jellyfish Trees are losing the competition to survive to stronger genus, and climate change is affecting their environment. Scientists are continuing to research this unique and baffling species.

The tremendous variety of animals and plants surely show us the hand of God. He gave us charge to look after his work.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15

What have we done! On the one hand, humankind is intent on destroying the planet through its own selfish desires and on the other, carefully conserving plants in danger of extinction. It is up to each one of us to wonder and be awed by God’s creation and take steps to look after it, so generations to come can do the same.

Marian Nash, member of the Christian Faith

Date: Monday 6th September 2021

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