Bulbine & Bulbinella

Coffee Camp coffeecamp@optusnet.com.au
Wed, 20 Sep 2006 13:53:40 PDT
I'd like to share an informative reply I received from the Botanic Gardens, Sydney to my query regarding Bulbinella latifolia.

I recently bought seed of Bulbine latifolia from South Africa. Australian Quarantine (AQIS) seized the consignment as "Bulbinella latifolia has been assessed as a weed species & is not permitted into Australia.'   Um, derrrr. But whilst sorting out AQIS's confusion to have my seeds released, I found that another government dept. was singing the praises of a weed....but then again:

-----Original Message-----
From: Coffee Camp [mailto:coffeecamp@optusnet.com.au] 
Sent: Tuesday, 12 September 2006 6:06 AM
To: Plant Information
Subject: Bulbinella latifolia (B. floribunda)


I'm surprised that you, as a Botanical Garden, featured Bulbinella latifolia, formerly called B. floribunda, as Plant of the Week on 18th July, 2003 and have it growing when I have had seeds of it from South Africa confiscated by AQIS as 'The plant/seed has been assessed as a weed and entry is prohibited by legislation.'


Geoffrey Barnier
Coffee Camp NSW

Dear Mr Barnier,
Thank you for your email of 12 September about Bulbinella latifolia.  The Mount Tomah Botanic Garden is the cool climate garden of Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney.   As part of the Botanic Gardens Trust we take assessment of plant material for weediness and the risks that weedy material may pose to our environment seriously.  Plant material is kept in our collections for a number of scientific, educational and horticultural display reasons. As part of our curating the plant collections in the botanic garden all plant material is monitored for  weediness.  Where a species exhibits weedy habit we review the need to keep the taxon through our curation system and either implement controls where the plant is needed for scientific research or remove it from the collections if it poses an environmental risk.   

Interestingly it is the listing of species as a local, regional or national noxious weed which requires its destruction and removal rather than its listing as a prohibited import.  Bulbinella latifolia  is not listed as a weed in Australia.The AQIS prohibited import list acts as a warning to growers to monitor the species and put appropriate controls in place where needed, rather than precluding people from continuing to grow that species in Australia.     However we do take the listing of any species as a prohibited import seriously and once we become aware it is a prohibited import, we use the Botanic Gardens Trust curation process to increase the level of monitoring of that taxon.   

The Bulbinella latifolia material we hold in our living collection was acquired in 1989.  It has not exhibited any weedy behaviour in the collection at Mount Tomah to date.     Even so we are not transferring it to other agencies or making the plant available for other users.   Also we are monitoring its behaviour closely.  Botanic Gardens are also permitted to hold plants of declared weed risk where the threat can be managed and displaying the plant to the public is assessed as having educational or scientific value.  This species is of scientific interest because of its Gondwanic relationship as well being a close relative to other Australian species.

I have also made enquiries with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and after considering all the issues we have decided to continue growing and monitoring this species.  Many thanks for raising the matter.

Managing Curator
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden
Bells Line of Road
Mount Tomah NSW 2758
61 2 4567 3013
Cool Climate Garden of the Botanic Gardens Trust
Part of the Department of Environment and Conservation


Spring sunshine & 26C in Subtropical NSW

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