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Seed collecting foray on Kangaroo Island

Contributing to the Australian Seed Bank Partnership’s 1000 Species Project, South Australian Seed Conservation Centre seed collectors will be out in the field again this year. The project aims to enhance the representation of plant taxa in Australian conservation seed banks.

The focus of this year’s effort will be on at least 15 of 30 listed taxa at the floristically rich Kangaroo Island. As in earlier stages of the Project, the aim is to target taxa underrepresented in existing ex-situ seed banks, particularly these listed as threatened or of concern under Commonwealth and State legislation.

On Kangaroo Island, the combination of insularity, landform and habitat diversity and historical vegetation modification patterns, have resulted in plant communities supporting 891 native vascular plant taxa with a high degree of endemism. The Island has 46 unique plant species as well as 11 taxa recognised as regionally endemic, with only a minor part of their distribution in an adjoining region. Those unique taxa and rich plant communities on Kangaroo Island face a range of threats such as: small scale clearing, erosion, salinity, fragmentation of populations, as well as the establishment of weed and disease species (including Phytophthora, which has been detected on the Island).

Habitats to be visited will include open woodland and heath, while some of the focal species targeted are known only from localised area or restricted habitat on the Island such as perched swamps. Of the taxa targeted are a number of Pultenaea (Bush-pea) species. Pultenaea trifida (Kangaroo Island Bush-pea)  for example, is restricted predominantly to the western part of Kangaroo Island. This shrub occurs in tall shrubland as well as in tall open forest and heathlands, where its yellow flowers can be seen in spring.

In addition, Olax obcordata (Sweet Heart Leaves) is a target species for conservation seed banking. It is endemic to South Australia and is considered endangered. It is only currently known from the northwest corner of Kangaroo Island and is presumed extinct on Eyre Peninsula (Photo credit: South Australian Seed Conservation Centre) .