During the STEP walk at Agnes Banks Nature Reserve we came across an endangered Persoonia nutans with lots of little gauze bags tied over the flowers. This is a beautiful delicate plant but it occurs in limited locations. I happened to listen to an episode of ABC Radio National program Off Track that actually described what the bags are all about.
A major population of P. nutans is the one at Agnes Banks, though there are a few others, notably at Castlereagh Nature Reserve and the Georges River area. But all its localities are isolated and have been threatened by past land clearing, sand mining and development.
Currently researchers have difficulty propagating the plant and it has been impossible to germinate the seeds. Research is currently being undertaken by the Australian PlantBank in order to establish a viable emergency genetic supply of seeds. Ideally, if the plant could be propagated, it could be used in habitat restoration and landscaping.
In the radio program, Technical Officer Katharine Catelotti describes the work being done on this plant. Especially intriguing are the seed collection and germination experiments using smoke, heat, fungus and processing through the emu’s digestive tract. As emus are known to eat their scats so they are testing whether the seeds need to go through their system more than one time.