President’s Report – 1992



It is a pleasure to let the research workers speak for themselves in this Annual report. Two of them are students; the Foundation’s grants will tempt them to study Australian plants in their future careers. One researcher has qualified for a large grant from the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation as a result of the Foundation’s grant. Persoonia species are living up to their reputation: all the simple recipes available for micro-propagation have failed, so more complex manipulations are to be tried. The fifth project produced a positive negative: the whole Atriplex/Stipa vegetation of inland South Australia appears to be devoid of mycorrhizas (friendly fungi in the plant roots).

Donors to the Research fund have had a good return on their contributions this year. Since July 1991, 63 people or groups have contributed. Donations of $500 or more were sent by anonymous (1), Diggers Garden Co., The Society for Growing Australian Plants N.S.W. Ltd. (3), S.G.A.P. North Shore Group, S.G.A.P. (Queensland Region) Inc., S.G.A.P. Tasmania Region Inc. and John Williamson. In addition (accountable for in the 1993 financial year) the Foundation has received $45,000 from the estate of the late Michael Bowden for the “preservation, propagation and dissemination of Australian flora”. The Board resolved, for the time being, to use the interest from this bequest in promoting research into the biology and cultivation of the Australian flora.

My thanks to all those listed in this Annual Report for their voluntary work for the Foundation and for assisting me in my first year as President.

Malcolm Reed


The Foundation funded five projects during 1992. Grantees have provided brief descriptions of their research projects. Detailed final reports will be combined and available from the Secretary mid-1993 for $5.

Ms. V.G. Williamson B.Sc.(Hons)
University of New England, Armidale
Cut flowers: extending their life in the vase:
Boronia heterophylla has been studied as the first of six species, in matched pairs, so the influence of stem anatomy or physiology on the vase-life can be determined. Silver thiosulphate has extended vase life to a fortnight. Publication: Abstract in Aust. Society of Plant Physiologists Meeting program, Sept. 1992.

Dr. Mark Tester B.Sc.(Hons)., Ph.D.
University of Adelaide
Mycorrhizas of Atriplex and Stipa
The roots of the perennial chenopodiaceous shrub, Atriplex vesicaria, have been found to be devoid of infection by mycorrhizal fungi, both from numerous field collections and from plants grown in the glasshouse in soil known to be rich in mycorrhizal fungal propagules. However it has been found that large numbers of other species which would be expected to be susceptible to infection by mycorrhizal fungi (e.g. the grass Stipa nitida), when collected from the arid zone of South Australia have also been uninfected. Moreover, the soil collected from a wide range of sites appears to have very few, if any, mycorrhizal fungal propagules. The possibility that most plants in an ecosystem as extensive as the Australian arid zone are uninfected by mycorrhizal fungi is remarkable, and will be the subject of further investigation.

Dr. K.V. Sharman B.App.Sci., Ph.D.
Qld. Dept. of Primary Industries
Redlands Research Station
Collection and evaluation of Daisies (tribe lnuleae) with horticultural potential
The germination requirements of 26 species from six genera have been evaluated to date. Test seed was stored for a minimum of six months at room temperature prior to treatment. The effects of light, moisture, gibberellic acid, and hand scarification, on seed germination have been evaluated. Helichrysum apiculatum, Helipterum venustum, H. stipitatum and H. fitzgibbonii required light for germination while scarification improved germination compared with intact seeds in Helipterum manglesii and H. floribundum. The species: H. polygalifoleum, Myriocephalus stuartii, Helichrysum podolepdeum and Podolepis jaceoides only germinated following the addition of gibberellic acid at 500 mg/L.

Ms. Carolyn Ireland B.A.
University of Adelaide
Recruitment in the western myall (Acacia paovrocarpa Benth.)
The western myall has a seasonal cycle of flowering and seed set which differs markedly from tree to tree and in abundance from year to year. Ants are predatory seed harvesters rather than seed dispersers Scarified seeds with arils germinate more successfully than seeds without arils: seeds do, however, exhibit innate dormancy. Seed fall occurs during the most likely time for large episodic rainfall events which occur approximately every 20 years. Onward growth of seedlings appears to require more than 80mm of rain falling in one germination event. It may be that the rare occurrence of inundation with its scarification of seeds by tumbling action and water and the burial of the seeds away from the harvester ants are crucial for large recruitment events. Paper : The Ecological Society of Aust. Poster : 1992 conference of The Aust. Rangeland Society.

Dr. Janet R. Gorst B.Sc.Agr.(Hons), M.Sc., Ph.D., University of Tasmania
Micropropagation of Persoonia
Most work has been done with P. gunnii as this is readily available close to Hobart but P. juniperina and P. muelleri have also been tried. Conventional cuttings, seeds, excised embryos and material for micropropagation have been taken at various times throughout the year but the species have proved to be extremely recalcitrant to all forms of propagation. The major problem with cutting material is that it rapidly turns black (presumably due to phenolic production) at temperatures above 4° C. Conventional treatments to lessen phenolic production have all been unsuccessful and of several hundred micropropagation explants taken, only one has remained green. It may be possible to regenerate plants from callus induced on the embryos