Issue Number #38
Issue Date Winter 2007
Number of Articles Online 1 Articles
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Title Conserving the Tassie ray flower

A rare endemic shrub, the Tasmanian ray flower (Cyphanthera tasmanica) has caught the attention of the Tasmanian Millennium Seed Bank team.

The Tasmanian ray flower is listed as rare under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Act. The rarity of this small shrub has enticed James Wood from the Seed bank project to find a novel way to source a decent amount of seed from the ray flower. For a healthy, long-term collection the project needs to collect around 10-20,000 seeds from at least 50 individuals within a population.

The rarity of the ray flower means it is not viable to collect enough seed from native populations, so James has set up a Seed Orchard Program. The Understorey Network has been asked to participate in the program. Ruth received an overwhelming response from members interested in participating. Participating members will receive ray flowers propagated vegetatively and be asked to collect any seeds. The seeds will then be stored under ideal conditions in the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre at the botanical gardens as an insurance policy against local species extinction. The seed orchard may also allow the staff to facilitate a research program to fully understand the germination requirements and also to look at seed longevity.

The lowdown on the Tasmanian ray flower

  • Small, erect grey green shrub with white star-shaped flowers.
  • Grows to a height of between 1-3m
  • The leaves are between 1-4 cm long with a short stalk, blunt tip and a margin that is bent backwards towards the underside of the leaf. The undersides of the leaves are covered in microscopic star-shaped hairs giving the plant a rough sandpaper feel.
  • The fruit is a reddish-brown capsule between 4-5 mm in diameter. When the seeds are ripe the capsule splits open and the seeds drop out.
  • Cyphanthera is a short lived shrub (~10 years) whose appearance in the wild seems to be linked with fire events.
  • Found in gullies and hillsides of the east coast of the state.

Note: This species was previously called Anthocercis tasmanica

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