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Renewed optimism for critically endangered plants

Banksia anatona
Banksia anatona Sarah Barrett

The discovery of new seedlings from three critically endangered plants has given scientists renewed hope in saving important native plant populations.

New populations of cactus banksia (Banksia anatona), Foote’s grevillea (Grevillea calliantha) and the round-leaf honeysuckle (Lambertia orbifolia subsp. Orbifolia) were established by staff from the Department of Parks and Wildlife at various sites throughout the state’s south-west between 1998 and 2009.

The species are threatened by severe habitat fragmentation, phytophthora disease, weeds and grazing.

Research scientist Leonie Monks said finding new seedlings in the populations shows they are reproducing and establishing naturally.

We are finally starting to see successful reproduction from the plantings that took place several years ago which is very exciting,” she said.

“Seeds were collected from existing populations of the plants and a small number were germinated by the department’s Threatened Flora Seed Centre to determine their viability. Viable seed lots were then grown at the Kings Park and Botanic Gardens nursery to produce seedlings.

“The seedlings were planted at a secure site close to existing populations and successful reproduction and establishment of new seedlings will contribute to conservation of the species into the future.”

Ms Monks said the translocation of the Banksia anatona started as an experiment.

“That was the first time we had introduced a plant species outside of the Stirling Ranges, which is its natural range,” she said.

“We are very pleased that it is flourishing, enabling us to collect seeds and establish further populations.”

Ms Monks has been involved in establishing new plant populations since the program began in 1998.

“In the past 16 years, new populations of 60 threatened plant species at 99 different sites have been established with the aim of creating viable self-sustainable populations,” she said.

“However, with more than 150 critically endangered plant species we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

“While there are numerous challenges in plant conservation, the establishment of new seedlings has provided a significant boost in helping to create new viable populations that will further enhance plant numbers.”

 

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