Arthur Rylah Institute plant ecologist Annette Muir says spotting rare native plants in the bush after a fire is like a treasure hunt.
'In some cases, we’re looking for threatened species that very few people have ever seen in the wild.'
Nine months after the devastating 2019-20 bushfires, Annette and the ARI Community Ecology Team helped find over 50 threatened plants species in far East Gippsland.
The team included program leader Arn Tolsma and plant ecologists Judy Downe, Geoff Sutter and Michele Kohout.
Annette was heartened to see signs of regrowth only months after the major blaze, including dwarf blue trumpets, betka bottlebrush and elegant daisies.
'It was very confronting at first to drive for hours and see all this burnt forest.
At the same time, you notice intense fresh colours and bright greens of new leaves and grass trees sending up new spikes.'
Annette says collecting data can be gruelling, but the rewards pay off.
'At the end of the day, you’re making a difference to conservation and informing our bushfire recovery efforts.'
Annette has been researching banksia and other native plants and their responses to fire for over 15 years.
Her research into Hairpin Banksia has helped reveal the long lifecycles of this species, which take about 10 years to produce seeds in their woody cones.
If fires burn the plants too early, they risk dying before they can develop seeds. Once seeds drop, rainy days are needed to help the seeds germinate.
Annette’s research has filled gaps in our knowledge about the species’ lifecycle and is helping Regional Gippsland and Port Phillip staff protect this native plant.
Annette says growing these wonderful Australian wildflowers around your garden is a great way to provide nectar for your local wildlife.
Because banksia flower in autumn, they are a valuable food source when many other flowers stay dormant until spring.
Find out more about Annette’s work to help conservation efforts for banksias at Fire regimes for Banksias.
Page last updated: 11/02/22