Flinders finds

Date posted: 08 February 2017

Words by Botanic Gardens trainee, Ryan Underhill

In November 2016 the a team of Botanic Gardens of South Australia horticultural and South Australian Seed Conservation Centre staff travelled to the rugged Flinders Ranges to collect seeds and vegetative material for a number of rare and endemic plant species.

Led by the Seed Centre’s Dan Duval, the Gardens propagation expert Matt Coulter, curators Steve Higgins and Sharon Wilcox, and three horticultural trainees (myself, Dieter and Michael) were dispatched to this beautiful region, which starts 200 kilometres north of Adelaide.

The trip lasted four days and covered a number of notable areas including Mambray Creek, Mount Remarkable National Park, Angorichina and Brachina Gorge.

The collected material will be used to propagate plants that will fill new garden beds in front of Adelaide Botanic Garden’s Goodman Building. The proposed beds are intended to showcase plants that are emblematic of the Flinders Ranges region. Once the beds are established, people will be able to visit a piece of the Flinders Ranges without leaving the city's limits.

Many of the plants that were targeted on the trip, such as the daisy Ixodia flindersica and wax-flower Philotheca difformis, are rare and grow in specific niches atop steep rocky outcrops. The wax-flower is only known in South Australia from “The ‘Bluff” on Bibliando Station, where it’s growing on rocky slopes at 850m.

Other notable plants we found were the endangered Codonocarpus pyramidalis, the rare Flinders Ranges indigo Indigofera longibractea, and the rare native lime Citrus glauca from the Horseshow Range. The ancient, arid adapted Citrus glauca is considered the original ancestor for many of the Citrus species that occur throughout the world today.

Getting around in the Flinders and accessing remote locations is no easy task, but our efforts were rewarded. In four days, we collected seed and vegetative material from over 50 species. The nursery staff have already struck over 1,000 cuttings.

In the end, we'll have a bed populated by plants of wild origin to tell the story of the Flinders Ranges, contributing both to the diversity of our living collections and the tales these collections tell.

The South Australian Seed Conservation Centre is proudly supported by CMV Foundation, Thyne Reid Foundation, Antony & Mary Lou Simpson, ElectraNet and High Noon Trust.