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Exploratory trip yields early results in WA

Staff of the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Threatened Flora Seed Centre recently completed the first major field trip of the current collecting season. The focus for the season is the mid-west of the state, extending from Perth to north of Geraldton.

This first trip was as much about preparation for the coming season as it was about collecting. Many of the species were visited whilst still flowering to make it easier to locate the plants. In total, populations of 39 species were evaluated for seed collection. For species that might be difficult to locate when not flowering, their positions were marked with a GPS and in some cases markers were placed to indicate their location. A number of species with immature fruit had cloth bags placed over the fruit, or had traps placed under the plants, to catch the fruit or seed when it is naturally shed from the plant. This strategy, although labour intensive, increases the chances that a collection will be successful and that the seed will be mature.

Most of the collections made on the trip were eucalypts being collected as part of the ASBP’s contribution to the Global Tree Program in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew UK. Species collected for this project included the critically endangered Eucalyptus impensa and E. balanites. In all, 13 seed collections from 10 species were made, a number of which will be followed up with repeat visits as more seed matures.

One of the highlights of the trip was the discovery of new occurrences of a number of poorly known plant species of conservation significance in Western Australia including Acacia retrorsa, Lechenaultia longiloba and Stylidium periscelianthum.

Lechenaultia longiloba

Photo: Andrew Crawford DPaW

Eucalyptus impensa flower, and its fruit and seed. Photo: Andrew Crawford, DPaW

Stylidium periscelianthum

Photo: Andrew Crawford DPaW