Fight to save Banksia vincentia one of Australia’s rarest plants

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Only four are known to exist in the wild, making the Banksia vincentia one of Australia’s rarest plants.

But conservationists in Canberra and on the NSW South Coast hope its critically endangered status will soon be a thing of the past as they work to drastically boost the flowering plant’s numbers and secure its future.

The species is only found in the wild near the small South Coast town of Vincentia, but new seed orchards are now being constructed to protect and propagate the plants at Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay and the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.

Booderee National Park acting botanic gardens curator Stig Pedersen said he hoped to propagate at least 800 Banksia vincentia plants in the Booderee orchard by 2020.

Mr Pedersen said no decisions had been made yet about how many of those would then be reintroduced into the wild, or whether

they would be reintroduced in the same area as the four surviving plants.

“It will take a few years before they mature and set seed,” he said.

“By autumn 2020, we hope to have the bulk of the orchard established, but reintroducing [the plants] to the wild is a few years away.”

Each Banksia vincentia has its own 60 centimetre by 60 centimetre container, designed to maximise their chances of producing seeds.

“[The containers] are effectively concrete pipes used by industry for drainage and other purposes,” Australian National Botanic Gardens living collections curator David Taylor said.

“We’re getting the plants off the ground as an extra insurance policy to give them the best possible shot and try to prevent issues we might have with pests, soil, poor drainage and things like that.”

Jacki Koppman and Suellen Harris discovered the Banksia vincentia 10 years ago, and only 14 of the plants were ever found.

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