Rare and threatened species
The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne plays an extremely important role in the conservation and protection of plants. The Rare and Threatened Bed, located on Central Lawn, plays a valuable role in public education and enjoyment while also conserving specimens and seeds from many rare and threatened species of Victorian flora.
Five environmental regions
The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne in 2008 established five conservation plant beds in the Central Lawn area of the Gardens which highlight threatened species from five environmental regions in Victoria: Mallee, grasslands of the Volcanic Plain, the Grampians, Alps and subalps and the eastern ranges of Gippsland.
Telling the story
The species were selected to 'tell the stories' of how rare and threatened species come to be that way – ranging from those that are simply geographically or ecologically restricted, to those where the habitat has been lost or damaged through processes including land clearance and degradation.
Ensuring survival from the wild
Bed and planting design was developed in conjunction with the Garden's landscape architect, horticulturists and herbarium botanists. The plants were sourced from the wild, with horticulturists accompanying botanists from the National Herbarium of Victoria, a division of the RBG Melbourne. The plants locality, habitat, abundance and 'performance', both in the nursery and in the garden beds was recorded in the RBG Melbourne living collections database. Most of the species on display have been grown from seeds collected for the Victorian Conservation Seedbank, a project that seeks to ensure that threatened Victorian plants are conserved by long-term storage of seeds and, as required, returning plants to the wild. Refer to the Victorian Conservation Seedbank page for more information.
Generally, material was sourced from a number of individuals in a population to provide more genetic diversity in the collection, which in turn increased the chances of successful local adaptation to the very different growing conditions at RBG Melbourne. The display beds now have an important role as a genetically diverse source of seed and/or cuttings for further propagation and use in conservation actions such as reinforcing depleted wild populations.
Referencing for the future
The plants are also a source of DNA for e.g. molecular-based research into species relationships and species genetic diversity. They are particularly valuable for this type of work because their identity has been verified by herbarium botanists, with dried specimens permanently preserved in the National Herbarium of Victoria for future reference if necessary.
Rare and threatened species fact sheets
- Rare and Threatened plants (Word - 1.80mb)
- Rare and Threatened plants - Gippsland (Word - 1.53mb)
- Rare and Threatened plants - Grampians (Word - 832kb)
- Rare and Threatened plants - Grasslands (Word - 1.16mb)
- Rare and Threatened plants - Mallee (Word - 1.65mb)
- Rare and Threatened plants - Victorian Alps (Word - 1.36mb)
Last updated 20 May 2011