Investigation of the importance of mycorrhizae on propagation of some members of the family Epacridaceae – Final Report

Final report on the project:

Cassandra Mclean
Burnley College of Horticulture, University of Melbourne

Ericoid mycorrhizae are found in the roots of the Epacridaceae. The Epacridaceae are a major family in heathland uegetation and are therefore important in revegetation of these areas. Furthermore, many of the species have attractive flowers and foliage and have potential in the cut flower and horticultural industry. It is important to ensure a supply of healthy plants. However difficulty is often experienced in propagation of many members of this family. Germination rates are low, so propagation is usually by cuttings although success is variable. The net result is that although members of the family have horticultural potential, they are not produced on a large scale commercially due to propagation difficulties. Nurseries surveyed were interested in maintaining a reliable supply of plants throughout the gear. Hence this study was undertaken to determine the effect, if any of mycorrhizae on the survival and striking of cuttings.

This project over 2 years tested the effect of the addition of soil containing mycorrhizal propagules to the striking media on the rooting of cuttings. Soil was taken from under established plants. Tip cuttings were collected at two sites in different seasons. Seven species were tested: Astroloma pinifolium, A. conostephiodes, Brachyloma daphnoides, Styphelia adscendens, Epacris impressa var grandiflora, E. impressa and Leucopogon ericoides.

Of these A. pinifolium, B. daphnoides, S. adscendens, Epacris impressa var grandiflora and E. impressa all showed a positive response to the addition of soil containing mycorrhizal propagules with increased striking rates and survival rates.

These results suggest that mycorrhizae may have many potential uses, for example: in revegetation, to improve nursery production and for rehabilitation of degraded urban soils.

For further details see
McLean, C. Lawrie, A. C. and Blaze, K. L. (1994). The effect of soil microflora on the survival of cuttings of Epacris impressa. Plant & Soil. 1994. 166: 295-297.