7 Nov 2023


Ever heard of Twining Finger-flowers? How about the Roundleaf Honeysuckle or Omeo Storksbill? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Many of these rare blooms are under threat, while some others are known in only one location or have only been recently discovered. That’s why Botanica by Air Wick has partnered with WWF-Australia to create The Rare Bloom Project. In collaboration with the Australian Seed Bank Partnership, over the last three years we’ve been working to protect Australian wildflowers through conservation programs of seed collection, germination trials and propagation.

Through this partnership we've supported the conservation of 140 species, including securing 126 species (and counting) in seed banks across the country.

Here are 10 of these unique wildflowers we’ve been able to protect in partnership.

Bussell's Spider orchid
Bussell's spider orchid

Bussell’s spider orchid - Caladenia busselliana

Status: Endangered

Location: Known to be found in a narrow geographic range of less than 40 kilometres near the northern end of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, WA

Progress: Through the Rare Bloom Project, staff at Kings Park and Botanic Garden in WA were able to successfully germinate this species from seed that was collected in 1999. 

The young plants were carefully nurtured in the garden nursery while habitat surveys were conducted to detect orchid pollinators (in this case, certain wasp species) and identify suitable sites for translocation. 

A total of 216 plants were successfully translocated, effectively safeguarding the survival of this species. A number of the orchids were also planted in the conservation garden at Kings Park as an educational tool for visitors.

Did you know?

  • There were previously less than 50 plants remaining in the wild.
  • Seeds of this species are microscopic and require a symbiotic relationship with a suitable fungus for germination to occur.

Corunna daisy - Brachyscome muelleri
Corunna daisy - Brachyscome muelleri © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Corunna daisy - Brachyscome muelleri

Status: Endangered

Location: Eyre Peninsula, South Australia

Progress: To help conserve this species, seeds that had been banked at the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre were propagated, allowing 500 plants to be established in a Seed Production Area at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. 

The plants flourished, flowered, and produced over 55,000 seeds that were then collected, banked and propagated again. An additional 250 plants were also successfully translocated into a South Australian nature reserve, securing a crucial insurance population for the species.

Did you know?

  • The Corunna daisy is found in one known location. It is threatened in the wild by invasive weeds and grazing by livestock, rabbits and goats.
Pink flannel flower - Actinotus forsythia
Pink flannel flower - Actinotus forsythia © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Pink flannel flower - Actinotus forsythii

Status: Not listed, but noted under the Australian Government’s ‘Priority’ plant list.

Location: Blue Mountains, NSW

Progress: After the 2019-2020 bushfires, the Australian PlantBank secured over 500,000 seeds from Katoomba and from these, new seedlings were grown. In March 2022, staff from Botanica and WWF-Australia planted 73 seedlings of the pink flannel flower at the Australian Botanic Gardens in Mount Annan, just outside of Sydney. This population will act as a reference for further research, conservation, education and display purposes.

Did you know?

  • This species is a bushfire ephemeral, meaning it blooms after fire. After the bushfires, there was a mass emergence of this species in the Blue Mountains.
Omeo Storksbill
Omeo Storksbill © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Omeo storksbill - Pelargonium sp. Striatellum (G.W.Carr 10345)

Status: Endangered

Location: Restricted to only four locations in NSW.

Progress: Seed scientists from the Australian National Botanic Gardens sustainably collected and banked seed from the wild. Next horticulturists unlocked the secret to germinating and growing this rare species, developing the first documented seed germination and plant propagation protocols for this species. Next they planted 68 individuals at the gardens to create a living insurance population for this species.

Did you know?

  • This species lives within a narrow habitat just above the high-water level of lakes. It is threatened by grazing livestock, infestation of invasive weeds and land use changes.
Twining Finger-flowers - Cheiranthera volubilis
Twining Finger-flowers - Cheiranthera volubilis © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Twining Finger-flowers - Cheiranthera volubilis

Status: Vulnerable

Location: Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Progress: Prior to the 2019-2020 bushfires, the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre only stored seed collections from a single population of this species. 

In a win for conservation, the Rare Bloom Project has facilitated the discovery of a total of five populations that all now have seeds conserved in the South Australian seed bank. This ensures much greater genetic diversity for any future collections of plants.

Cheiranthera volubilis seed was collected, and from these more than 100 plants were grown and translocated into three sites on Kangaroo Island. Seedlings were also planted in a Seed Production Area on Kangaroo Island. 

When these plants mature, further seed can be collected, banked and propagated to conserve this species. This is of particular importance when plants are rare or do not produce large quantities of viable seed in the wild.

Did you know?

  • This cryptic plant spends most of its time hidden in plain sight, twining and climbing up surrounding vegetation. It is only in mid-spring, when it emerges with its vivid purple flowers and bright yellow stamens, that it is more clearly visible.
Barker’s Boronia - Boronia barkeriana
Barker’s Boronia - Boronia barkeriana © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Barker’s Boronia - Boronia barkeriana

Status: Not listed, but noted under the Australian Government’s ‘Priority’ plant list.

Location: Found in NSW in moist areas on sandstone and in the Southern Tablelands in fragile ‘hanging swamp’ habitat, which was burnt in the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Progress: During the 2019-2020 bushfires, the habitat of Boronia barkeriana subsp. barkeriana in Blackheath, NSW was entirely burned. Flora assessments and seed collections were undertaken post-bushfire to collect data on impacted flora species, including Barker’s boronia, and understand how they are faring. 

Did you know?

  • For the first time since the fires, this species was observed flowering at the hanging swamp at Govett’s Leap in Blue Mountains National Park. Battling wet conditions, staff from the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan were able to collect and secure this species in the event that future fires damage the area. Great work team!
Alpine Stackhousia / Alpine candles - Stackhousia pulvinaris
Alpine Stackhousia / Alpine candles - Stackhousia pulvinaris © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Alpine Stackhousia / Alpine candles - Stackhousia pulvinaris

Status: Vulnerable in Tasmania and Endangered in Victoria

Location: Alpine herbfields and subalpine grasslands in NSW and Victoria, and on the Central Plateau in Tasmania including on the edge of sinkholes.

Progress: The Rare Bloom Project supported the collection of Alpine Stackhousia seeds from the main range area of Kosciuszko National Park in NSW. This is important as having a range of populations sampled and stored ensures genetic diversity is maintained in seed bank collections and improves the resilience of this species when seeds are utilised in the future.

Did you know?

  • Stackhousia pulvinaris plants grow in dense mats or cushions very low to the ground. Flowers are creamy yellow, star shaped and less than 1cm wide and sweetly scented.
Roundleaf Honeysuckle - Lambertia orbifolia
Roundleaf Honeysuckle - Lambertia orbifolia © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Penny-leaved Honeysuckle - Lambertia orbifolia subsp. pecuniosa

Status: Priority 2 on Western Australia's Priority Flora List.

Location: Southwestern WA

Progress: In 2020, a new subspecies of Lambertia orbifolia was discovered near Bowelling in WA. At this time only two subspecies were known, both of which are considered Threatened in the state. As part of the Rare Bloom Project, seeds from the new find were collected and incorporated into the conservation collection of the Western Australian Seed Centre for safe keeping.

Yellow Swainson-Pea / Yellow Darling Pea - Swainsona pyrophila
Yellow Swainson-Pea / Yellow Darling Pea - Swainsona pyrophila © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Yellow Swainson-Pea / Yellow Darling Pea - Swainsona pyrophila

Status: Vulnerable

Location: Found in western NSW, east to northwestern Victoria and on the northern Eyre Peninsula of South Australia.

Progress: In 2020, more than five populations of the rare Swainsona pyrophila were recorded in a fire scar in the Secret Rocks Nature Reserve, South Australia. A total of 160,000 seeds have been collected and banked from the two larger populations. More than 100 plants were propagated for translocation to a protected area in Secret Rocks in 2021.

Did you know?

  • It needs fire to germinate! The Yellow Swainson-Pea only germinates and lives for a few years above ground after fire. Sadly, much of its habitat has been cleared, and changes in fire frequency and intensity may threaten its survival.
Stylidium amabile
Stylidium amabile © Australian Seedbank Partnership

Status: Listed as Critically Endangered

Location: Found in the Avon Wheatbelt in WA, with only 2 subpopulations known.

Progress: More than 40,000 seeds have been collected in total and added to the existing collections held at the WA Seed Centre. Germination trials have been completed, ensuring seeds are viable and can be used to regenerate healthy living plants for the future.

Threats to the species include road and rail maintenance nearby, grazing, drought and climate change

Did you know?

  • Pollination in Stylidium plants is a fascinating process. A tiny trigger formed by the reproductive organs snaps forward quickly in response to touch, covering visiting insects in pollen. The pollination ‘attack’ can be completed in as little as 15 milliseconds.