Friday 19th February 2016

Today I headed out with the seed bank team James Wood and Natalie Tapson in search of very important native seeds to add to theTasmanian seed bank.  James and Natalie work on the SeedSafe project.  This project is a partnership between the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, the Tasmanian  Herbarium, and the Biodiversity Conservation Branch of Tasmania's Department  of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.  SeedSafe began as part of the Millennium Seedbank Project. The aim of this project is to hold viable, multi provenanced (original and authenticated) collections for the entire Tasmanian Flora.  It also can provide viable seeds to assist in reintroducing native plant communities into an area affected by fire, weed or pests.  

We headed down to the SSS2 site to conduct an ecologial study on this control site.  This site is a coastal
heathland which is home to a number of species including the Stringy Bark Eucalypt (Eucalypt obliqua),
the Casuarina (Casuarina equistiflora) , Banksia (Banksia marginata) and many lower lying plant species.
A coastal heathland habitat generally has plants that are salt resistant, live in sandy substrate and can
tolerate windy conditions. I am completely amazed by the level of knowledge both James and Natalie had,
they relied on their knowledge and didn't refer to any books or reference material. From there we moved
down the road on Lighthouse road to collect herbarium specimens and seedlings for two species, the
Stringy Bark Eucalypt and the Casuarina. For the Stringy Bark we needed to collect seeds from 25 trees to
provide sufficient species biodiversity. These were collected on the roadside, so watching for passing
vehicles was important for our safety.  James used a large tree lopper to cut down branches for Natalie
and I to collect.  James allowed me to have a go at cutting the tree branches down. The pole was three
times my size, and in the wind, it was extremely heavy.  We cut the branch by pulling down on the rope
and the branch fell to the ground. We needed seeds that were developed but not open as the seed is no
longer within the capsule.  James was saying that a viable seed collection has approximately 20,000
seeds stored within the seed bank.

      
 
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The second species collected was the Casuarina. James, Natalie and I were on different locations, being mindful not to cross paths. We collected 10 percent of the seeds from each accessible tree along the road within a 20 metre distance.  With these seeds we needed to ensure the capsules collected were developed with their seeds enclosed.  When we had finished we had collected from over 150 plants.  This collection method allows for a wide and strong species diversity to be stored at the seed bank.  

These seeds will be taken back to the centre and stored in a room which is both temperature and humidity controlled to remove the moisture before they are stored.  This procedure is so important to the continued viability of the seeds as they can be stored for over 100 years.

More information

SeedSafe project

Seed collecting