Plant story - Bulbine crassa is saved at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank
In January 2007, a seed collection of great significance was made, as part of the joint Tasmanian Millennium Seed Bank Partnership initiative.
01 Jan 2010
Bulbine crassa flower (Photo: S. Harris)
The plant species collected was Bulbine crassa, a robust leek lily, collected from Neds reef in the Furneaux islands. The significance lay in this species newness to science – it was only described in 2006.
Bulbine crassa occurs only on a few small islands off the southern coast of Victoria. Only a few plants were known to exist in a couple of private gardens but no seeds had been properly curated in ex situ collections. That is until January 2007. This was when a team made up of representatives from several organisations set out from Hobart to travel to the Furneaux islands to collect seeds for the “Seed-Safe” program, the Tasmanian component of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.
The team boarded a large twin hull boat which was manoeuvred towards a long low island called Neds reef. This island is relatively pristine and there is little sign that the island was once used to graze a few sheep. Visitors to the island are conscious of the cries of seabirds overhead or the guttural sounds of seabirds still in their burrows. Once the larger boat had dropped anchor, the team was ferried in a small inflatable dingy to the shore to begin searching for the lily. We soon found a prominent stand of the lily was growing on the slope right above our landing point, and there were plenty of stems with prolific stores of seed. We were ecstatic. This would be an excellent addition to both the seed bank at Wakehurst and also the seed bank in Hobart at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
The plants are fleshy with erect green leaves with flowering scapes up to 60 cm tall that bear beautiful and prominent yellow flowers. The plants grow on Poa tussock grassland, which is also frequented by seabirds.
Story - Stephen Harris, Senior Botanist, Nature Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries and Water, Hobart, Tasmania
Photo - S. Harris
Get involved - Adopt a Seed, Save a Species
We have successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species and we have set our sights on saving 25% by 2020.
Without plants there could be no life on earth, and yet every day another four plant species face extinction. Too often when we hear these kind of statistics there is little that we can do as individuals, but thanks to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership and the Adopt a Seed, Save a Species campaign there is something that you can do to ensure the survival of a plant species.
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