The Field Genebank Unit is responsible for the management of all recalcitrant plant species being conserved in the Centre. The Field Genebank of the Centre is about 12 hectares wide, containing over 300 plant species. The focus of the Unit is to collect and conserve indigenous recalcitrant plants that are threatened with extinction, endemic plants, economic tree crops, underutilized and wild plant species and varieties of various crop species such as roots and tubers, fruit tree crops and other food crops with recalcitrant seed behaviour. Likewise, the Unit also manages safety duplicates of newly registered and released varieties of such related crop species.
Administratively, the Unit manages the Centre’s Field Genebank, the Herbarium and Medicinal Herb Garden. In addition, functions of the Unit include the following:
- Exploration, collection and conservation of recalcitrant germplasms;
- Research and Development activities;
- Collection and preservation of herbarium specimens;
- General maintenance of the field genebank;
- Training and capacity building in conservation-related areas.
The Field Genebank
Orchard of Irvingia gabonensis
Potted seedlings of Dillenia indica
The Field Genebank is as old as the Centre itself, being in a state of semi-natural lowland forest ecology. The field contains over 300 plant species most of which were collected and introduced to the environment through nationwide exploration, personal donations or through safety duplicates from other research institutes in Nigeria.
The Field Genebank is made up of orchards and arboreta of different indigenous plant species in Nigeria. They include the Irvingia gabonensis orchard, Irvingia wombulu orchard which are the largest Irvingia collection in West Africa; Citrus orchard, woody species collections, passion fruit vine, mango orchard, plantations of cassava, rubber, yam, sweet potato, Moringa oleifera as well as arboretum for medicinal plants, wild underutilized, multipurpose tree species and endangered indigenous trees, among others. According to a diversity studies carried out by Borokini et al., (2010), over 361 plants were identified in the Field Genebank.
Examples of plants species on the Field Genebank include forest tree crops such as Khaya grandifoliola, Milicia excelsa, Calophyllum inophyllum, Terminalia superba, Triplochiton scleroxylon and Erythrophleum suaveolens while endangered indigenous species include Khaya ivorensis, Afzelia africana, Picralima nitida, Tetrapleura tetraptera, Monodora myristica, Garcinia kola, Cola millenii, Khaya senegalensis, Nauclea didderichii, and Terminalia ivorensis among others.
The source of the germplasms on the Field Genebank is mainly from exploration and collection activities around the country; donations from staffs and externals as well as safety duplicates or collaborative projects with relevant Research Institutes, such as yam, cassava and sweet potato varieties from National Root Crops Research Institute (NCRI), Umudike; Oil palm from National Institute from Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin City and rubber from Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN), Benin city. The Centre also have small Cocoa field genebank.
Among the yam species conserved in the Centre include various accessions of Dioscorea rotundata, Dioscorea alata, Dioscorea cayenesis, and Dioscorea dumentorum. These yam species collected in Nigeria are product of collaborative project sponsored by Global Crop Diversity Trust.
File cabinet of dry pressed plant collections
Spirit (Fluid) collection
The Herbarium was established in August 2004. This section is expected to keep and preserve plant specimens that will help in accurate identification of plants and their locations and biogeographical distributions within Nigeria. From inception to date, NACGRAB Herbarium have over 2000 voucher specimens spread across over 100 plant families out of the 202 plant families that make up the Flora of West Tropical Africa. The voucher specimens were collected from among the flora of all the ecological zones of the country.
In addition, there are about 120 carpological specimens, comprising tree barks, plant fruits and seeds as well as a few pickled specimens of the fruit and flower of Thaumatococcus danielli.
The Medicinal Herb Garden
The garden was established in August 2007, as a subset of the Field Genebank Unit, so as to give appropriate attention to medicinal herbal and shrub plants which need to be conserved and protected from overexploitation. The garden boasts of plants such as Ocimum gratissimum, Caesalpinia bonduc, Morinda citrifolia (noni), Senna alata, Costus afer, Stachytarpheta cayennensis, Deinbollia pinnata,Cymbopogon citratus, Pterocarpus osun, Jatropha tanjorensis (Efo Iyana Ipaja) among others.