A key function of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority is to conserve, manage, display and undertake research into collections of Western Australian flora, and to promote the understanding of biodiversity. The WA Seed Technology Centre (WASTC) is located in the Biodiversity Conservation Centre in Kings Park and Botanic Garden and has been involved in the collection, storage and testing of Western Australian native plant seed for over 40 years. Seeds from over 3500 different plant species are stored in the seedbank and maintained to International Standards.
A major role of the WASTC is to collect seed and plant material from priority species that are from threatened habitats, are rare or under risk of extinction.
Seed and plant material is collected from all over Western Australia in a number of coordinated collecting trips each year. Collection locations include the Kimberley coast over 3000 km to the north of Perth, the Great Victoria Desert in the east, and Esperance and Cape Arid in the south-east.
Periodically the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, through Kings Park Expeditions, provides unique opportunities for interested public members to join Authority staff in the field, visiting remote areas within Western Australia to collect seed and plant material.
Once seeds are collected they are cleaned and dried under carefully controlled conditions, before being stored in freezers at -18oC. Research by BGPA's Seed Conservation team indicates that many seeds stored in this way have the potential to live for decades, or even hundreds of years.
Declared rare flora and priority flora, which are managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, are seedbanked both at WASTC and at the Threatened Flora Seed Centre, located at the WA Herbarium, as part of a risk management strategy for Western Australia's threatened flora.
Duplicate collections of seeds are also made available to Kew Gardens, UK to support the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership which provides funding to the WA Seed Technology Centre to help conserve our State's flora.
Plants and display
Plant material collected is propagated through cuttings, grafting or tissue culture and maintained at Kings Park and Botanic Garden, and seeds are stored under scientifically validated conditions. Plant material can then be further propagated, and seeds germinated, for research, propagation, display or rehabilitation work by the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
The book entitled 'Australian Seeds: a guide to their collection, identification and biology' was produced by our talented staff, features photographs of the seed of more than 1200 native plant species and provides a valuable resource to horticulturists, agriculturists and anyone interested in Australian flora. The book is available as an e-book.