President’s Report – 1990


It is with considerable pleasure that I present this report since the Foundation has had a very successful year. It has sought to establishe its credentials with the growers of Australian native plants, as well as with the researchers, as an integral part of the Australian plant growing scene and in this we are being successful. As a result, the Foundation may look towards financing research which will make available many more species to our gardens.

During 1990 the Foundation has funded the work of three researchers. Donations were made by SGAP NSW Region and SGAP SA Region specifically to meet the requirements of Dr. Taji’s proposal for research into the cultivation and propagation of Conospermum. Their generous help, together with a number of individual donations and a promise from SGAP NSW Region to provide funds next year, will make it possible to finance this work for two growing seasons. A substantial donation by SGAP Queensland Region for the 1990 research program of the Foundation has been used to finance Dr. McGee’s work on Thysanotus.

Dr. Kirby’s investigations into the cultivation of Clianthus has been financed mainly from individual donations to the Research fund of the Foundation.

The research program this year shows just what the Foundation can do with the help and goodwill of those people who are interested in expanding the numbers of Australian plant species available to gardeners and commercial growers. The Foundation is providing a service to all growers of native plants by funding investigations into those species which, although difficult to cultivate, have great potential in domestic gardens and commercial activities. In fact, since most of our funding comes from SGAP groups and private individuals, we have concentrated on those plants which might be important in private gardens. Conospermum also has considerable potential as a cut flower and what attracted the Directors to this particular project was the conservation problem since the present crop comes from natural stands.

The Directors propose that for the 1991 program we should continue to finance the same projects which we financed during 1990, providing the progress reports are satisfactory and the researchers still require financial assistance. During 1992 we will present to the Federal SGAP Conference in Perth a series of research proposals which might be attractive to those Regions which so far are not committed to our program.

We have issued two News sheets during the past year informing members and donors of our activities and also containing brief popular reviews of happenings on the Australian botanical scene. This will continue .

I would like, in particular, to thank Bill Payne for his fund raising activities amongst SGAP Regions and Groups on behalf of the Foundation, John Wrigley for introducing a large number of people to the advantages of donating towards our research program, Malcolm Reed for his varied promotional activities and Janice Hughes for her Secretarial and accounting work for the Foundation.

If the problems associated with growing many Australian native plants are to be tackled scientifically so that we can solve those problems by eliminating the causes rather than by individual ad hoc solutions, funds are necessary to determine those causes. For instance, is the poor growth of the seedlings of many species in seed beds due to lack of a mycorrhizal connection with a mature plants providing some needed materials for further growth? Are mycorrhiza and root nodules necessary for satisfactory growth of Sturt’s Desert Pea? These two problems are examples of research which is being funded by the Foundation which may significantly effect our propagating techniques in many species other than those upon which the present experiments are being carried out. But investigations like these do need financial assistance and if you think that we are doing a good job ask your friends to join the Foundation or make tax-deductible donations to our research fund

May I thank you for supporting the Foundation during 1990 and ask you to continue that support during the coming year.

Best wishes for 1991,




Dr. Peter Allen McGee B.Ag.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D. University of Sydney
Development of mycorrhiza of Thysanotus
The presence of mycorrhiza and a companion plant in experimental soils have been used to grow Thysanotus successfully. The project has reached the stage where we need to understand how mycorrhiza develop in roots, so that further questions on exchange of nutrients between plants via mycorrhiza can be answered. The research should also provide the basis of a method of generating plants in tissue culture with their mycorrhizal partner.

Dr. Acram Tajl B.Ag.Sci. (Hons), Grad.Dip. Hort.Sci, PhD. University of New England
Propagation of Conospermum spp. by seed, cuttings and tissue culture.
Morphological examination of seed collected from as many populations as possible and, where possible, tetrazolium staining for viability, is used as a guide to possible germination requirements. Systematic screening of seed treatments is being conducted with germination tests on filter paper under controlled conditions. A thermogradient plate is used to determine suitable temperatures for germination.

Dr. G.C. Kirby, B.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D. Flinders University of S.A.
Microbial symbionts of Sturt’s Desert Pea
Investigation of the hypothesis that Sturt’s Desert Pea plants require microbial symbionts (Rhizobium bacteria for nitrogen fixation and mycorrhizal fungi for increased nutrient uptake and disease resistance) on their roots for healthy and vigorous growth. After suitable strains of bacteria and fungi have been isolated, their efficacy in stimulating Sturts Desert Pea growth must be evaluated.

Progress reports of the above projects will be tabled at the A.G.M and included in the condensed minutes which are sent to all members and donors. Final reports are receivable March 1991 and condensed versions of these will be published later