[Front Page] [Features] [Departments] [Society Home] [Subscribe]

Australian Plants online

First Cuttings

Australian Plants Societies

Australian Plants online is brought to you by the 7 Societies that make up the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants (ASGAP).

Have you ever thought of joining one of the Societies? There is a Regional Society in every Australian state and also in the Australian Capital Territory. In addition, there are over 100 district groups established in centres throughout Australia.

Membership brings many benefits - regular district group and Regional newsletters, the colour journal "Australian Plants", access to free seed banks, regular meetings with expert speakers, bush walks, garden visits, advice from experienced growers, access to difficult to obtain plants and access to Study Groups.

Why not take a look at the Membership Page and see what we have to offer?


Weeds by Mail

It is an inescapable fact that environmental weeds threaten hundreds of thousands of hectares of Australia's native bushland and many are spreading faster than scientists can find ways of controlling them.

Of course exotic plants becoming weeds is not a problem that is restricted to Australia. There are plenty of Australian plants causing havoc overseas - Melaleuca quinquenervia in Florida and Hakea sericea in South Africa to name two - and the last thing the Society would want to be blamed for is the introduction of another weed species somewhere in the world. This is one reason why I always (politely!) decline when people send requests for seed to be sent overseas.

With this in mind, I thought the following article from the Newsletter of the Wildflower Society of Western Australia (August 2000) is worth serious consideration.....

Weeds by Mail.....

Some gardening magazines and popular TV lifestyle programs extol the supposed benefits of mail-order gardening such as getting "rare" plants and getting seeds from overseas. Unfortunately many of these articles and TV segments have little or no mention of quarantine requirements. What may be perfectly acceptable as a garden or greenhouse plant in another country may well be a noxious weed in Australia. Nasella trichotoma, better known as serrated tussock grass in Australia, is a perfect example of this. This noxious grass is available from several UK seed suppliers.

Weeds by mail are not a new problem. Mail order catalogues for seeds and bulbs have been around for well over 100 years; thus the postal system has long been used to move plant material around the world. An excellent example of a mail-order plant becoming a weed is Paterson's curse which was available, as Eichium plantagineum, from mail-order catalogues in the 1840s.

However, with the increasing popularity of e-commerce, the internet trade in seeds and bulbs has boomed. There are now thousands of companies, special interest clubs and societies and informal chat groups selling and swapping plant material with the bulk of it being distributed by mail. Some offer trade to anywhere in the world in ignorance of quarantine, others blatantly flout quarantine laws. Even where the plants concerned do not have weed potential, they can also spread diseases and pests.

Australian quarantine authorities are using Rapiscan (a type of x-ray) and detector dogs to detect plant material at the mail exchange. Between August 1998 and June 1999, 31,743 items were scanned at the Perth Parcel Centre, of which 2,664 contained illegal material such as plants, cuttings and soil.

Agriculture Western Australia recently invited American weed expert Dr Randy Westbrooks to Perth to take part in a workshop looking at ways of reducing the spread of invasive species, particularly weeds, through the mail. The aim of the workshop was to come up with ideas for solutions to some of the many problems associated with transmitting Quarantine Risk Material in the postal system. A long term goal is to have international agreements in place to deal with this issue.

The workshop identified some weaknesses in current systems and some ideas to solve problems including development of new software and development of a global early warning system on weeds. It was resolved to continue correspondence on the matter and invite participation from countries with similar concerns such as New Zealand. The cost of weeds can be enormous, the Weed Science Society of America has estimated that invasive plants cost the US more than US $20 billion per year. The Americans are particularly keen to implement new systems since the release of President Clinton's executive order on invasive species.

Sandy Lloyd
AgricuIture Western Australia



Florabank LogoSpacer

FloraBank is a jointly sponsored service involving the Bushcare program of the Natural Heritage Trust, Greening Australia, CSIRO and the Australian National Botanic Gardens. The Australian Centre for Mining Environmental Research and the Nursery Industry Association of Australia also participate.

The aim of FloraBank is to improve the availability and quality of native seed for revegetation and conservation purposes in Australia. But the site is not just of interest to Bushcare and Landcare Groups....anyone with an interest in propagating Australian native plants from seed will find a wealth of information on the site.

Here's just a sample.......

  • Fact Sheets and Technical Articles.
    • Smoke as a seed pretreatment
    • Technical Aspects of Seed Collection, Storage and Handling
    • Seed Production for Local Revegetation
    • Restoring and Rehabilitating Whole Native Plant Communities
    • Native Seed in Australia - A community Perspective
  • Germination information from the CSIRO
  • Detailed Germination Data Sheets for Acacia, Eucalypts, Grasses and the Lily family
  • Extensive reference list for Bushfood, General Germination, Germination tests, Plant conservation, Plant use, Plants by region, Propagation, Seed biology, Seed general, Seed collection and handling, Seed orchards, Seed storage, Seed use, Threatened flora, Use of plants, Viability tests
  • Online Newsletter (currently at Issue 5)
  • Native seed suppliers listing
  • Email discussion groups Seed collection methods, Seed production areas for native woody plants, Germination and viability tests

A recent initiative is FloraData - a Commonwealth funded national collaborative project that will outline germination, viability and other aspects that are required for rehabilitation project using of using Australian native seed. It will collate as much published and unpublished data that can be provided by contributors and will be readily available to all end-users. Everybody with an interest in Australian native species shouls take a look at the FloraData web site.


Mundulla Yellows: A growing concern

As reported previously in Australian Plants online (December 1999) Mundulla Yellows is a recently identified disease that is having a serious impact on native trees and shrubs.

Initially noticed on eucalypts in the late 1970s near Mundulla in South Australia, it is characterised by a yellowing of the leaves. More recent studies indicate that a range of species can be affected and, indications to date are that the disease is always fatal although death may take 10 years or more.

As reported in a recent issue of Danthonia, (newsletter of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation), other plants affected can include Allocasuarina, Xanthorrhoea, Melaleuca, Bursaria, Dianella and Acacia. Evidence of the disease have been reported from Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and the Northern Territory.

Research into the indentification and control of the causal agent (believed to be a phytoplasma - an organism that lives inside plant cells) Is urgent.


Cultivar Watch

New cultivars of Australian plants appear at regular intervals, some aimed at the commercial cut flower grower and others at ornamental horticulture. Some will become firmly established in gardens and others will disappear without trace....

Here are a few which have appeared recently. Thanks to Nicky Rose and the "Foothills Group" newsletter of the Australian Plants Society (Victoria) for compiling this list, mainly from information in Australian Horticulture.

Cultivar NameDescription
Acacia cognata "Limelight" Bower wattle - features soft, weeping foliage. For full sun to semi-shade.
Austromyrtus acmenioides "Afterglow" Dense, glossy foliage with shiny red new growth on a compact, bushy shrub that is very hardy.
Bracteantha bracteata "Coolgardie Gold" and "Broome Pearl" Part of the Sundaze paper daisy range - bred for compact, low growth, long life, superior flower colour and prolific year long flowering.
Dianella ensiformis "Border Gold" Variegated leaves feature cream to gold and green stripes.
Isopogon anemonifolius "Woorikee 2000 " "Drumsticks" - Selected from seed batches of coastal provenance, for its dwarfed, free flowering habit. This plant was named to celebrate the year 2000 and to recognize Aboriginal culture.
Leptospermum "White Wave" This is a controlled cross between L. "Cardwell" and L. "Rhiannon". Cascading habit and prolific, large white flowers..
Leptospermum "Joy", "Martin" and "Naoko" These are L.polygalifolium "Cardwell" x L.scoparium "nana" crosses. "Joy" is pink flowering with a compact growth habit, "Martin" has soft white/pink flowers and grows to about 1.5 m) and "Naoko" produces a profusion of bright red flowers.
Ptilotus obovatus "Ozlotus Pink Suantra" Selected by Peter Abell, University of Sydney, for the cut flower industry with its long stems.
Ptilotus obovatus "Ozlotus Abell Star" Pink mulla mulla - also selected by Peter Abell.
Prostanthera "Badja Peak" Badja mint bush - good for hedging.
Syzygium australe "Southern Lights" Has masses of white fluffy flowers in summer and autumn followed by pink fruit and dark green and gold, glossy foliage.


"Australian Plants"....in print!

'Australian Plants' - CoverSpacer

The Society's 48 page, colour (printed) journal, "Australian Plants" has been published quarterly since 1959. It carries articles of interest to both amateur growers and professionals in botany and horticulture. Its authors include the leading professional and amateur researchers working in with the Australian flora and many beautiful and high quality photographs of Australian plants are published in its pages. Topics covered by the journal cover a wide range and include landscaping, growing, botany, propagation and conservation.

A subscription to the print version of "Australian Plants" is $18 annually for 4 issues (overseas $AUS32) including postage. To subscribe, print out the Subscription Form and post or fax the appropriate fee to the address indicated on the form.

Note that the contents of "Australian Plants" and "Australian Plants online" are totally different.

These are some of the topics covered in recent issues of "Australian Plants":

Eremophila as Cut Flowers
Eremophila Seed Germination
Cassia and Senna in Australia
Australian Ferns - Growing them successfully
Smoke induced germination
Tea trees
The "Honeypot" Dryandras
Bernawarra Gardens - Tasmania
Plants for wet areas
Philotheca and Eriostemon - name changes
Lilly Pilly cultivars
Tropical legumes
Eucalyptus cinerea - lignotuber studies
Nutritional needs of Proteaceae
Labichea and Petalostylis
Xyris in Australia
Ferns in a garden
Yellow Waratah...Telopea truncata form
"Pines" of Tasmania
Tasmanian plants in horticulture in Britain
Eucalypts of Tasmania
Cut flower production trials
Emu Bush - Growing Eremophila
Kangaroo Paws - for colour
Creating a native garden...For beginners
Native honeysuckle; The genus Lambertia
Fertilizing for grevilleas
Creating homes for birds and mammals
Mistletoe; their natural biological control
Australian Rushes
Native Bees and Seed Dispersal
Sun Orchids - Thelymitra
Eucalyptus Foliage - Cut stems and postharvest
Vegetation of Macquarie Island
Grevillea - care and maintenance
Proteaceae of the rainforest
Richmond Birdwing butterfly
Terrestrial orchids of Royal National Park
Bladderworts - carnivorous plants
New Banksia releases
Edible wattle seeds - southern Australia
An introduction to legumes of Australia
Orchids as garden features
Native lowland grasslands of Tasmania
Orities - Tasmanian endemics
Gardening in clay
The daisy family
The tea tree oil industry
Riceflower - an everlasting daisy as a cut flower
Corkwood as a source of medicine
Outback Gardening - Achieving water efficiency
Pioneering Quandong as a fruit
Commercial cropping in the dry Interior
Bush food plantations
Rainforest plants - horticulture and bush tucker
Native fruits - Aboriginal food
About plant roots
NSW Christmas Bush: Cut flower industry


[Front Page] [Features] [Departments] [Society Home] [Subscribe]

Australian Plants online - September 2000
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants