Persoonia perplexities: seed conservation research of eastern Australian Geebungs

Start date:
01 Jan 2014
End date:
07 Jun 2017
Dr Catherine A Offord, Dr Nathan J Emery, Katharine Catelotti, Daniel Bishop and Mark Viler
Project sponsors:
Office of Environment and Heritage Newcastle ACARP Save our Species Partnership Grants Program
Catherine A Offord

Project aims

  • Investigating the requirements for optimal seed storage, germination and propagation. 
  • Determining if Persoonia species can be propagated from plant cuttings and tissue culture. 
  • Understanding the factors that can affect seed quality.
  • Producing plants for display, education and reintroduction


Project summary

Persoonia, known as Geebungs in eastern Australia, are notoriously difficult to grow and many are rare or endangered. One example is the critically-endangered North Rothbury Persoonia (P. pauciflora). Several species also have potential for horticultural development.

At the Australian PlantBank, we are focusing on the reproductive biology of eastern Australian Persoonias by developing techniques to improve germination success. Plants are also being propagated from cuttings and tissue culture as an alternative to seed germination. Re-establishment (‘translocation’) of plants is also being examined. 

This program will provide information to growers and researchers on how best to produce and conserve these species.

Persoonia are notoriously difficult to grow and many are rare or endangered... We are developing techniques to improve germination success of eastern Australian Persoonias.

Research update

Our team has collected genetically-representative seed samples from nine species across New South Wales, particularly those that are rare or endangered.

We have also have collected cuttings from a number of species, including Persoonia pauciflora, P.hirsuta and P. glaucesens. These collections are being grown in our nursery and will be used for future reintroductions.

In the laboratory we have identified the temperature range for germination of P. pauciflora. We can now perform more targeted experiments on this species, and use this information to guide our experiments on other Persoonia species. 

Tissue culture of Persoonia species for horticulture and restoration

Persoonia (Proteaceae) is an Australian endemic genus of Proteaceae many species of which are horticulturally desirable. A large number of species are endangered in the wild and the restoration industry is interested in effective ways to propagate them. While high volume regeneration of Persoonias from seeds and cuttings remains problematic, tissue culture may be an alternative or complementary technique.

Further work on this taxon is required to optimise multiplication of cultures and the transition of explants to the ex vitro environment. 

More information