Walter Hill tree leads restoration of Brisbane’s lost macadamias

Macadamias used to grow wild along Brisbane’s creeks and rivers, but very few remain. The Macadamia Conservation Trust has located only ten trees from Brisbane’s original macadamia population.

One of these was planted in 1858 by Walter Hill, first Superintendent of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. The tree is still standing today in the gardens. Cuttings from this tree will lead the restoration of Brisbane’s lost macadamia habitat.

“Extensive genetic testing of wild Macadamia integrifolia has revealed that these three old trees and seven others collected over the last 20 years are the only known trees to have survived from Brisbane’s lost macadamias,” said Denise Bond, Executive Officer of the Macadamia Conservation Trust.

Through the Wild Macadamia Hunt we ran in partnership with the Macadamia Conservation Trust, a few more descendants have been found growing in backyards and parks.

As original ecosystems are restored around Brisbane, it is important to include locally endemic macadamias in places where they would have grown originally.

Seedlings grown from nuts from a wild tree pass on DNA from their mother tree, but the father tree might be any macadamia within a few kilometres, including cloned cultivars. By planting cuttings of trees from the original Brisbane population, we are preserving DNA from both local, wild parent trees. This will help make sure the original Brisbane macadamias survive as part of our environment.

Read more about this project: https://hlw.org.au/project/the-wild-macadamia-hunt/ 

 

This project was supported by Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government’s Queensland Citizen Science Grants and delivered in partnership with the Macadamia Conservation Trust and Southern Cross University.

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