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Working together to conserve the purple coral-pea

Seed hunter Dan Duval collects seeds in an arid zone of South Australia. Photo: SA Seed Conservation Centre
The Tasmanian population of the purple coral-pea – here growing on sandstone in the Pontos Hills near Hobart – dates back to the early 1800s
Photo: N. Tapson
The nationally endangered Corunna daisy (Brachyscome muelleri) has been collected, stored and researched at the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre. Photo: SA Seed Conservation Centre
Staff from the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Threatened Species Section, Private Land Conservancy Program and Threatened Plants Tasmania volunteers, fenced off and planted out 76 Hardenbergia violacea in 2010 to augment the wild population
Photo: N. Tapson

In Tasmania, a private landowner, local community members and government agencies are collaborating in an effort to conserve the endangered purple coral-pea, Hardenbergia violacea.

The purple coral-pea, Hardenbergia violacea, is restricted to a single subpopulation of about 40 plants on the Pontos Hills near Hobart.  Records of its occurrence date back to the early 1800s, and recent research has shown it to be genetically distinct from mainland populations.

Tony Scherer, of Frogmore Creek Vineyard – the location of the remaining subpopulation – has worked with a number of government agencies and the local community to help conserve the species. The Threatened Species Section has fenced off more than 30 plants to protect them from grazing.  Under the Tasmanian government Private Land Conservancy Program, Tony signed the 500th voluntary perpetual covenant in February 2010.  This protects the natural values of 100 hectares of land at Frogmore, including the grassy forest habitat of the purple coral-pea.

The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens has worked as part of this collaborative effort. The Seed Orchard Program grew on plants from seed collected from both the Frogmore subpopulation and a now extinct second subpopulation. More than 6300 seeds – which will be banked in the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre – have been harvested to date. The Gardens and the Penna Landcare Group received a grant from the Tasmanian Landcare Association to fence and plant 76 of the seed orchard purple coral-pea plants back in the wild on the Pontos Hills.