Plant collecting in Kakadu

Tom North, Australian National Botanic Gardens seed bank manager, pressing plant specimens with Kakadu ranger Jenny Hunter

This year I headed north to collect plant material from Kakadu National Park – and to share skills with traditional owners, park rangers and local nursery operators on how to collect, handle and store seed.

Covering an area half the size of Switzerland, Kakadu is a place of amazing ecological and biological diversity. It contains more than 2,000 different types of plant species with still more to be described.

The landscapes are home to a range of rare and endemic plants. On this trip, we wanted to collect some of the park’s threatened plant species. We were also looking to collect key species from the Stone Country and species with little biological knowledge attached to them.

We used helicopters, quad bikes and four-wheel drives to get to some pretty inaccessible areas within the park, but we still spent much of the day on foot. We collected seed from 14 species, including two of the targeted threatened species, plus a further six herbarium specimens for identification.

Four traditional owners and two nursery staff were presented with certificates from the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Seed Handling and Plant Identification.

Tom North, Australian National Botanic Gardens

Park ranger Jenny Hunter and traditional owners Stephan Anderson and Jake Baird collecting _Hibiscus brennanii_