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Rainfall makes for good seed collecting conditions

Landscape south of Tibooburra in NSW. Photo: G. Errington
Landscape south of Tibooburra in NSW
Photo: G. Errington
    The usually uncommon Lobelia darlingensis was found in large numbers after recent rainfall west of Bourke, NSW. Photo: G. Errington
The usually uncommon Lobelia darlingensis was found in large numbers after recent rainfall west of Bourke, NSW
Photo: G. Errington
    NSW Seedbank collectors found the spectacular Swainsona flavicarinata for the first time in 45 years after the 2010 rains in NSW. Photo: G. Errington
NSW Seedbank collectors found the spectacular Swainsona flavicarinata for the first time in 45 years after the 2010 rains in NSW
Photo: G. Errington

In November 2010, staff from the NSW Seedbank set off to north-western New South Wales to take advantage of the recent exceptional rainfall.

The mild seasonal conditions and continuing rainfall extended the flowering season for many species, and the quantity of seed produced was well above an average season. The field trip resulted in nearly 60 seed collections for the NSW Seedbank, as well as material for horticultural purposes, DNA analysis and the NSW Herbarium.

The seed hunters made a good collection of Lobelia darlingensis on the flood plain of the Paroo River, west of Bourke. This uncommon species usually only occurs in large numbers in seasons of good rainfall.

The team also collected several species of Swainsona, including the endangered Swainsona flavicarinata. This spectacular pea flower has only been recorded at one location in NSW within the past 45 years. NSW Seedbank collectors had never found this plant at its known location before, but in 2010 they located several hundred plants, allowing them to make a comprehensive conservation seed collection.
 
While in the field, the seed collectors also trialled uploading short messages and photos to Twitter and Facebook.  Designed to let the public in on the behind-the-scenes activities of the NSW Seed Bank staff, this social communication will continue throughout the collecting season.