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Preventing the extinction of the Grampians Globe-pea in Victoria

Preventing the extinction of the Grampians Globe-pea in Victoria

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and La Trobe University scientists are working hard to protect the Critically Endangered Sphaerolobium acanthos (Grampians Globe-pea).

Growing up to 1 m tall, this spiny shrub has vibrant flowers that are bright orange, but can range from yellow to red in colour.

Sphaerolobium acanthos is restricted with less than 200 individuals remaining in the Gariwerd National Park in Victoria. As part of ongoing conservation work, populations of S. acanthos are being surveyed with genetic studies underway to inform seed collections and propagation for future reintroduction.

The species is thought to be pollinated by native bees, and pollinator studies are helping to establish exactly what these pollinators are so that suitable reintroduction sites can be found to save the plant from extinction.

The Grampians Globe-pea is threatened by animal browsing, habitat loss, and dieback caused by the pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi (Cinnamon fungus).

 

This research is funded by Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action‘s Nature Fund. The ‘Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora project is led by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in partnership with La Trobe University, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, DEECA, Trust for Nature, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, Nillumbik Shire, ENVITE, Bairnsdale & District Field Naturalists Club, Friends of the Grampians Gariwerd, WAMA Botanic Gardens, Halls Gap Botanic Gardens and the Australasian Native Orchid Society Victorian Branch.

Images supplied by La Trobe University

Preventing the extinction of the Swamp Everlasting in Victoria

Preventing the extinction of the Swamp Everlasting in Victoria

Xerochrysum palustre (The Swamp Everlasting)

This beautiful golden everlasting daisy is endemic to south-eastern Australia (https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/xerochrysum_palustre). It grows in seasonal or permanent wetlands and swamps scattered from near Portland in western Victoria to Bairnsdale in the east, also occurring in NSW and Tasmania. It is perennial, grows 30-100 cm tall and has showy flowers up to 5 cm across which appear from November to March. It dies off in late summer, and resprouts in winter-spring, depending on rain. The Swamp Everlasting is listed as Critically Endangered under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, and as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 reflecting a range of threats to the long-term persistence of populations, including land clearing, altered hydrology, weed invasion and grazing.

Flower seeding – Supplied RBGV

The National Recovery Plan for Xerochrysum palustre (2011) estimated that there were 35 wild populations remaining. With the passage of time and following a recent revision of the genus (see Collins et al. 2022. Australian Systematic Botany 35, 120-185) which reclassified some alpine populations as a new species, Xerochrysum andrewiae, the current number and extent of populations of X. palustre is unclear. It is also difficult to estimate the number of plants and health of populations because of its rhizomatous growth form. As part of the ‘Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora project, RBGV staff are conducting surveys across its range and collecting material for genetic analysis to characterise diversity in remnant populations. Seeds are also being collected which will be used to grow plants to bolster populations, and act as insurance collections for long-term storage in the Victorian Conservation Seedbank at RBGV, Melbourne.

RBGV volunteer assisting with seed collection – Supplied RBGV

This research is funded by DEECA Victoria’s Nature Fund. The ‘Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora’ project is led by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in partnership with La Trobe UniversityAustralian Network for Plant ConservationDEECATrust for NatureENVITEBairnsdale & District Field Naturalists ClubFriends of the Grampians GariwerdWimmera CMANillumbik ShireHalls Gap Botanic Gardens and the Australasian Native Orchid Society Victorian Branch.

Feature image: Xerochrysum palustre (supplied RBGV)

Preventing the extinction of the Grampians Bitter-Pea in Victoria

Preventing the extinction of the Grampians Bitter-Pea in Victoria

While commonly known as the Grampians Bitter-Pea, Daviesia laevis is not only found in the Grampians/Gariwerd, with small populations also known from nearby ranges Mt Langi Ghiran, Mt Cole/Buangor and the Black Range. This large shrub has quite large, leaf-like phyllodes that are very similar to those found in many Wattle species, and for much of the year this could easily be mistaken for a Wattle. However, when in flower when it displays its small egg-and-bacon type flowers on mass with great effect.

Daviesia laevis is nationally listed as Vulnerable (EPBC) and within Victoria as Critically Endangered (FFG) due to its low population size and limited distribution. Small population size together with the need for disturbance such as fire for recruitment make this species vulnerable to inappropriate disturbance regimes and other threats such as weed invasion and macropod browsing. There is a clear need for ex-situ conservation of this species to ensure its ongoing survival, which is why it has been chosen as one of the 24 species in the Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora project run by the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. For this species our efforts will focus on collecting seed for long term storage and plant material for ex-situ living collections along with isolation, collection and storage of the symbiotic rhizobia needed for this species to grow.

This research is funded by DEECA Victoria’s Nature Fund. The ‘Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora’ project is led by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in partnership with La Trobe UniversityAustralian Network for Plant ConservationDEECATrust for NatureENVITEBairnsdale & District Field Naturalists ClubFriends of the Grampians GariwerdWimmera CMANillumbik ShireHalls Gap Botanic Gardens and the Australasian Native Orchid Society Victorian Branch.

Feature image: Daviesia laevis (supplied RBGV)

Preventing the extinction of the Rosella spider orchid in Victoria

Preventing the extinction of the Rosella spider orchid in Victoria

This rose-pink spider orchid is critically endangered and restricted to only a few sites in the north-east suburbs of Melbourne. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) scientists have been busy surveying remnant and translocated populations and collecting genetic samples as part of the ‘Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora program’. The genetic analysis will help guide strategic cross-pollination to produce more genetically diverse seed both for long term storage and to supply new plants for further reintroductions into the wild.

Supplied: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Pollination surveys are also underway, with scientists using nursery grown plants to attract the pollinator, a native bee in the genus Leioproctus. Identifying the presence of the key pollinator in potential translocation sites is a crucial step in site selection suitability, as Caladenia rosella plants will not set seed and regenerate at a site if it is absent.

Supplied: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

The ‘Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora’ 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, Wimmera CMA, Nillumbik Shire, Halls Gap Botanic Gardens and the Australasian Native Orchid Society Victorian Branch.

This project is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action Nature Fund.

Preventing the extinction of the Mallee Phebalium in Victoria

Preventing the extinction of the Mallee Phebalium in Victoria

Previously recorded throughout much of the Mallee region of western Victoria, the Mallee Phebalium, Phebalium glandulosum subsp. macrocalyx is now restricted to a few small populations south west of Swan Hill in north-western Victoria. There may be as few as 50 plants left in the wild in Victoria, and as such it is listed as Critically Endangered in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. The Mallee Phebalium is one of 24 threatened species that scientists and horticulture staff at the RBGV are working to protect as part of the Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora project.

This small to medium shrub has small bright yellow flowers and prominently glandular leaves that are aromatic when crushed. Many species of Phebalium are grown as garden plants, however cultivation is generally by cuttings, as seeds are very difficult to germinate due to physical or chemical dormancy mechanisms. We currently do not know how to germinate the Mallee Phebalium, so part of the work by the RBGV will be collecting seeds and running germination trials to try to figure out how to make them grow. Seeds will then be placed in long-term storage in the Victorian Conservation Seedbank and plants grown in a living collection at the RGBV to insure against loss of this species in the wild.

This research is funded by DEECA Victoria’s Nature Fund. The ‘Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora’ 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, Wimmera CMA, Nillumbik Shire, Halls Gap Botanic Gardens and the Australasian Native Orchid Society Victorian Branch.

Article Image: Mallee Phebalium (Phebalium glandulosum subsp. macrocalyx) – Photo credit: Andre Messina