Final report on the Australian Flora Foundation grant:
Iain Dawson and B. M. Sindel
Division of Plant Industry, CSIRO, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
During three field collection trips in December 1992 to northern New South Wales, the Western Plains and central and southern Victoria, plant specimens and seed of Wahlenbergia stricta and several other species of native bluebells, including W. communis and W. luteola, were collected from over 70 roadside sites. The data which were recorded included habitat, population size, stage of flowering, flowering intensity. flower diameter, colour, plant height and habit. Because flowering was considerably later at the southern sites mature capsules could not always be found. W.stricta appeared to be the best adapted to lightly woody or rocky sites on roadside embankments whilst W. communis occurred mainly on the gravel road verges immediately adjacent to the bitumen surface.
The variation in morphological, physiological and seed production characteristics was considered sufficient to proceed with the development of lines of both these species for broadscale landscaping. The seed which was collected has been cleaned but not yet propagated or plants evaluated. It should be noted that these species have very small seeds which makes collection and handling difficult and could be a problem for commercialisation.
The project will continue during 1994/95. Further seed collection from late flowering provenances will be made from southern areas in February – April 1995. Meanwhile existing accessions will be tested for germination and grown under controlled environment conditions for comparative evaluation of their physiology and morphology.
lain A Dawson
Principal Experimental Scientist