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.
Researchers from the University of Queensland have partnered with Aboriginal rangers at Camooweal near the Queensland-Northern Territory border to farm spinifex grass for the commercial manufacture of the world's strongest, thinnest condoms.
Eremophila is a large genus of woody shrubs (and a few small trees) found solely in Australia; the only New Zealand species, the prostrate E. debilis, appears to have been introduced from eastern Australia. There are over 220 named species, with at least another 40 awaiting description. Some have small distributions, most live in remote areas.
Indigenous Australian practices, honed over thousands of years, weave science with storytelling. In this Indigenous science series, we look at different aspects of First Australians' traditional life and uncover the knowledge behind them. In this installment, we examine some medicinal plants and ceremonies.
There are calls for a national plan to fight the fugal disease myrtle rust, which is destroying native trees and, experts say, has the potential to cause regional extinction of iconic Australian animals.
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.
Substantial climate changes are evident across Australia, with declining rainfall and rising temperature in conjunction with frequent fires. Considerable species loss and range contractions have been predicted; however, our understanding of how genetic variation may promote adaptation in response to climate change remains uncertain.
Tree invasions have substantial impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and trees that are dispersed by animals are more likely to become invasive. In addition, hybridisation between plants is well documented as a source of new weeds, as hybrids gain new characteristics that allow them to become invasive. Corymbia torelliana is an invasive tree with an unusual animal dispersal mechanism: seed dispersal by stingless bees, that hybridizes readily with other species. We examined hybrids between C. torelliana and C. citriodora subsp. citriodora to determine whether hybrids have inherited the seed dispersal characteristics of C. torelliana that allow bee dispersal.
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