Monday, 17 August 2009

Flowering, For the Very First Time


It has been pointed out to me that eucalypts haven’t yet featured in my blog. It’s appropriate for me to feature this genus today, because a visitor to my office this afternoon described the genus as our one of our worst weeds.

So today I feature a species that has a long way to go before it becomes a weed. In fact there are only three individual plants remaining in its natural habitat in the Blue Mountains. Three! Remember Wollemi Pines number just under 100 mature trees in their remote canyon north of Sydney.

The suggestively named Eucalyptus copulans was discovered at Wentworth Falls over a hundred years ago but only named as a distinct species in 1991, by former Director of the Trust Lawrie Johnson and former Trust scientist Ken Hill. At that time it was thought to be extinct and the species name refers not to its virulence, but to this species ‘joining’ or being intermediate between two others.

Since the three surviving trees were discovered, 1000 or so seeds have been collected and deposited in the NSW Seedbank at Mount Annan Botanic Garden. We’ve grown on some of this seed and planted specimens in our botanic gardens.

In November 2003, Professor Peter Crane, Director of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and the Hon Bob Debus MP, NSW Minister for the Environment, planted a Eucalyptus copulans in the Rare and Threatened Plant garden just outside the entrance to the Maiden Theatre. They also planted a specimen of the rare Nightcap Oak (Eidothea hardeniana) from north-eastern NSW.

Both plantings were part of the official launch of ‘Seedquest NSW’, a partnership between the NSW Seedbank and the Millenium Seedbank UK to conserve 10% of the world’s flowering plants in our seed banks by 2010 (we are almost there, and the target will be met).

Today, nearly six years on, our 5 m tall specimen is bearing its first flower buds. They are only a few mm long but they signify big things – the successful conservation of this species, albeit outside its natural habitat.

Image: photographs of the budding tree taken on the weekend by Simon Goodwin.

4 comments:

Barrie and Moana said...

Hello, just letting you know I lifted a pic from this post and details for my blog!

If you have any problems with that or the photo then tell me and I'll take it down. I just love conservation stories, especially when the plant is so cute! Your blog is a great way to get some planty news into the day, love it.

thanks,
Moana

http://misskwongsbooks.blogspot.com/

Tim Entwisle said...

No problem as long as source cited along with photographer's name, as you've done. Happy to have these ideas and images shared.
Thanks for feedback!
Tim

David said...

Hi Tim
I don't understand why eucalypts are "our one of our worst weeds". Who is 'our' in this context and why do they consider euclypts weeds?
Thanks
David

Tim Entwisle said...

Good question. They were being a little provocative but refering mostly to eucalypts being planted all over the place as almost a monoculture often to the exclusion of other species (either because the eucalypts take all the available water or other species aren't planted). Also I think because they are relatively quick growing and self seed so they can - out of their natural habitat (or even in it I guess) - become out of balance.