OUR EUCALYPTS HAVE a more amazing past than anyone ever guessed. Their oldest fossils have been found on the other side of the world – in South America. Beautifully preserved gum nuts, blossoms and leaves have been unearthed in Patagonia, dating back an incredible 52 million years.
Haemodoraceae is a largely south-west Western Australian family, although a small number of species are found in eastern and northern Australia and in tropical South, Central and North America, and in South Africa and New Guinea. This key includes all described and phrase-named (informal) taxa in Western Australia.
Wollemia nobilis has been named a ‘living fossil’ or a ‘dinosaur tree’ because it represents the only remaining member of an ancient genus, dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. From an evolutionary line thought to be long extinct, a population of living Wollemi pines were discovered in 1994 growing in a rainforest gorge in Australia. The total population consists of about 80 mature individuals and about 300 seedlings, found only in two sites within what is now Wollemi National Park, in New South Wales.
DEMAND for WA’s native plant seeds is increasing for purposes ranging from revegetating former mine sites to high-end restaurants which use Aboriginal food plants in their cuisine.
Environs Kimberley in Broome and local Indigenous Rangers are in the early stages of developing a seed bank made up of bush tucker species and other culturally-significant plants to help serve this demand.
At 750 years old one could be forgiven for having a few ailments but a recent health check of King's Park's mighty boab tree, Gija Jumulu, has revealed the popular tourist attraction is in perfect health.
Willow hakea is a shrub or small tree adapted to a Mediterranean climate. It is capable of surviving hot, dry summers but not restricted to these conditions. It flowers in spring and early summer (September to January) in South Africa. Infestations of this plant replace indigenous vegetation and prevent the regeneration of indigenous species.
It may be harder to spot a mountain ash in parts of Australia's mountains or some species of mallee trees in the outback within 60 years as climate change causes the range of most eucalypt species to shrink or even disappear entirely, new research suggests.
What can we do to future-proof our crops? How can crop production be increased by another 44% to feed the 9.3 billion people expected to be alive in 2050? How can it be done again by 2100 to feed 12 billion?
This must be done while using the same or even less farmland and under increasingly challenging climatic conditions. This is where a knowledge of desert plants may help.
The public gardens of Kings Park in Perth might be crowded with people desperately searching for Pokemon, but in an unseen building in the north-west corner of the park researchers are involved in an intensive search of a very different kind.
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