President’s Report – 2008


The objective of the Australian Flora Foundation is to ‘Foster research into the biology and cultivation of Australian plants’. Progress in the past 12 months is illustrated by the final reports received.
• Conomikes, McLean and Moore’s final report (grant in 2002) on the propagation and genetic fingerprinting of Epacris impressa. They found that E. impressa has a high level of both intra-race and inter-race genetic diversity. Propagation of the species is difficult, but they have developed an improved technique for rooting cuttings: ‘Soft new tip cuttings should be collected from plants approximately six weeks after flowering ceases and placed under fog for twenty weeks. The lower leaves should be manually removed from the stem with a sharp blade or scissors prior to sticking’.
• Price, Wong and Morgan’s (2004) final report on the effect of removal of sheep grazing in Red Gum woodlands on native understory species, showed that removal of sheep had positive benefits for understorey diversity, but recovery of native species was only found in woodlands which had been free of grazing for at least 20 years.
• Marchant, Perkins, Orel and Tower’s (2003) final report ‘Exploring the horticultural potential of native Australian flowering shrubs in the Solanum brownii group’ described two species that show prospects of being developed into horticultural ornamentals – S. nobile and S. curvicuspe.
• Morris and Briggs (2005) final report ‘Do heat and smoke affect the permeability of the Grevillea seed coat to large molecular weight compounds?’ describes a detailed investigation into seed coat dormancy in Grevillea, and concludes that seed coat impermeability is not the major cause of seed dormancy.

The full final reports, as well as nearly all previous final reports and publications arising from them, can be accessed on the Foundation website

In 2008 the Call for Applications added, within the area of plant diversity conservation …’particularly where there are threats from climate change’. As a result there were a number of applications related to climate change.

New research grants have been awarded to:
Phillip Ainsley ‘Developing a screening procedure to determine the impact of climate change on seed germination in threatened native plant species’
Brian Atwell ‘Can the phenology of Australian wild relatives of cultivated rice be modified for human use?’
Dion Harrison ‘Understanding the biochemical basis of flower colour in Australian native Ptilotus and Gomphrena
Robert Henry ‘Impact of climate on the genetic diversity of native species using Microlaena stipoides as a model’
Catherine Lovelock ‘The capacity of native saltmarsh halophytes to remove salt from saline wastewater discharge – an experimental assessment of salt uptake mechanisms in common Australian saltmarsh chenopods’
Nicholas Paul ‘Green caviar” and “sea grapes”: Targeted cultivation of high-value seaweeds from the genus Caulerpa

My thanks to each person who has contributed to the success of the Foundation in 2008.

Peter Goodwin
24th November 2008