The name Clianthus is derived from the Greek words kleios and anthos; combined, they mean glory flower. Perhaps it is my proclivity for pop culture, but I can’t help but think of casting a magic spell within the Harry Potter universe when I recite Clianthus maximus.
Perhaps it isn’t magical, but it was certainly an important part of historic Māori culture. Only 153 individual trees remain in the wild as of a 2005 survey, but whether all of these are actually “wild” is unknown. “This species, was said to have been grown by Māori, and many inland associations [on New Zealand’s North Island] occur in the vicinity of former pa, kainga, gardens or canoe haul outs,” according to the factsheet on Clianthus maximus from the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. Although population numbers are low in the wild, there can be hope about the future for this critically endangered taxon. It has a number of factors on its side: it is relatively easy to propagate (see previous link), it takes well to cultivation (though it can be short-lived, due to pests–again, see previous link), and I would judge it as an excellent example of a charismatic species.
Clianthus maximus was named by the missionary and botanist William Colenso. Here are two more accounts of Colenso, one from the Royal Society and another from The Meaning of Trees. Botany Photo of the Day has only featured one plant named for Colenso so far: Fuchsia × colensoi.
Botany resource link: For Endangered Florida Tree, How Far to Go to Save a Species?, a topical article from Yale’s Environment 360.
The Florida torreya is North America’s most endangered conifer, with less than one percent of its population remaining. Now, scientists are mounting a last-ditch effort to save the torreya and are considering using new gene-editing technologies to protect it.