The Cumberland Plain is full of many rare and threatened species, but the Nodding Geebung, or Persoonia nutans must be one of the most fascinating. Classified as Endangered at both the State and Federal level, this delicate and rare shrub occurs exclusively within a 40 square kilometre region of the Critically Endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland. It is estimated that as little as 4% of the Cumberland Plain Woodland remains, largely due to centuries of deforestation for agricultural and development projects. So it is not surprising that the spectacular Nodding Geebung, with its yellow trumpet-like flower, is threatened with extinction.
Team leader David Jones tells us more about this rare plant in a short video
Fortunately, this species was selected by the Office of Environment and Heritage as one of the priority species for conservation within their Saving Our Species program , and CVA are chipping in to help! One of the major challenges for conserving this species (aside from habitat loss) is that Geebungs are notoriously difficult to germinate from seed, and success in this pursuit has become the holy grail for botanists nationwide. Fortunately there are some bright minds on the job and they have been busy feeding the fruit to Emus (known to have been an important disperser of P. nutans seed), grinding them, cooking them and using chemicals and growth hormones to initiate seed development. The Mount Annan Botanic Gardens has been a forerunner with this research, and excitedly in late 2017 they gifted CVA 78 of their successfully germinated plants, all 1-2 years of age, with the objective for them to ‘return to the wild’ – creating an insurance population for the species.
With the help of volunteers, most of these plants were relocated to the CVA owned Londonderry Woodland Reserve. Extensive watering followed, and with our November rains they are all looking fantastic and in good shape for the coming hot summer. Furthermore, in recent months we have been conducting surveys for naturalised Nodding Geebungs that already had provenance on the site. This has also been hugely successful with an additional 25 plants discovered, bringing the total native plant population to 72 – that’s in addition to those translocated from Mount Annan Botanic Gardens!
So things are on the up for this rare and endangered plant, but there is always more work to be done and little funding to do it, so the help of volunteers remains vital. With a warm summer predicted, watering these plants in the coming months will certainly play an important role in ensuring the survival of this marvellous species.