Plant story - Banksia solandri has been conserved

Banksia solandri has been conserved by the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership's Australian partners. This plant species is in decline due to fire and disease.

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01 Jan 2010

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Banksia solandri

Banksia solandri (Photo by S M Armstrong taken from Florabase)

Plant profile

Banksia solandri is confined to the slopes and summits of peaks of the flora-rich Stirling Range in the south west botanical province of Western Australia where it was first collected in 1829. It is a slow growing endemic plant species that is killed by fire and has a primary juvenile period of eight to ten years.

Banksia are a food source and host for many native fauna and are an important component of the vegetation in which they occur. Their decline will affect countless other organisms.

Under threat

In its fire-prone environment, the winged seeds are protected in a dense woody cone consisting of up to 60 follicles, each follicle holding two seeds. Although this species is confined to a conservation reserve, all populations are infested by a virulent root pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi, and plant numbers continue to decline. The species is now largely absent from many areas long-affected by the disease. For this reason the species was given conservation status in 1996.

Rescue

Four attempts by the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation's Threatened Flora Seed Centre have been made to collect sufficient material for conservation. Most populations have been burnt within the past 10 years, many plants are still juvenile and few fruits are available for collection.

The final seed count for the largest collection made from a total of 62 fruiting plants was just under 1000. In 2006, 432 of these seeds were sent to the MSB for safe keeping. Under predicted climate change scenarios the potential for extinction of long lived mountain-restricted perennials like B. solandri is high. Ongoing collections will be made to ensure sufficient genetic material is available for conservation and future recovery efforts.

Story by Anne Cochrane, Western Australia Department of Environment & Conservation | More plant stories


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