Thanks to funding from DEECAVictoria’s Nature Fund, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria will be leading research to conserve 24 threatened Victorian plant species as part of the ‘Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora’ project. Stay tuned over the next year to hear more about the incredible plants being conserved for future generations.
One of these plants, and the first to be featured over the next 12 months, is Spyridium furculentum (forked spyridium).
Considered Critically Endangered in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, this rare species is endemic to heathy mallee in western Victoria – where it is only known from a few locations.
Forked spyridium is a shrub that grows to approximately 1.6 m tall, and the young branches are covered with star-shaped (stellate) hairs giving them a soft, furry appearance.
Ahead of field work later this year when populations will be surveyed and samples collected to characterise the genetic diversity of those populations, scientists are investigating seed viability and germination of seed collections held in the Victorian Conservation Seedbank (VCS) at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
The VCS holds collections of over 880 rare and threatened Victorian plant species for long-term conservation and this includes nine collections of Spyridium furculentum made since 2004. Like many species in the family Rhamnaceae, seeds of forked spyridium have a hard seed coat which acts as a physical barrier to water uptake and germination, so a dry heat treatment will be used to break this physical dormancy and enable germination. Seedlings will then be grown on to bolster populations in the wild.
This project is led by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in partnership with La Trobe University, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, DEECA, Trust for Nature, ENVITE, Bairnsdale & District Field Naturalists Club, Friends of the Grampians Gariwerd, Halls Gap Botanic Gardens and the Australasian Native Orchid Society Victorian Branch.
Image: Jo Lynch