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Rare flora - Saving the Crimson Berry

A team of ecological explorers has embarked on a mission to salvage critically endangered plant specimens from Wilsons Promontory National Park to regenerate the species on Phillip Island (Millowl).

Crimson Berry, otherwise known as Leptecophylla oxycedrus, are prickly shrubs that only grow to two metres tall but can be hundreds of years old. They get their name from the spectacular red, edible berries that grow on them.

Phillip Island Nature Parks' Environmental Rangers, Susan Spicer and James Anderson, were joined by a Parks Victoria marine ranger and field ecologist, and went by boat to Wilsons Promontory to salvage seedlings of the critically endangered Crimson Berry.  

The Crimson Berry is an extremely rare plant on Phillip Island (Millowl) and is one of five key threatened flora species on the island. Specimens at risk of being trampled alongside a walking track at Wilsons Promontory were identified and a Parks Victoria restoration ecologist reached out to Nature Parks. This was an opportunity to translocate the young Crimson Berry seedlings to a safer location and to help increase the genetic diversity of Crimson Berry plants on the island.

This translocation program for young Crimson Berry plants forms part of our Recovery Action Plan for the species. Current Crimson Berry populations on Phillip Island are largely remnants clinging on to cliffs that had been spared the effects of agricultural practices. These old plants are not showing signs of natural recruitment and to make things harder, they are notoriously difficult to propagate in a nursery. Seeds and cuttings from mature Crimson Berry plants were collected as well as the seedlings from Wilsons Promontory.

All transplanted seedlings are showing great results so far at Barb Martin Bushbank Nursery. This is exciting proof of concept and technique, it shows even the most difficult, high risk species can be relocated. Read more about the Recovery Action Plan for the Crimson Berry here.

By Susan Spicer, Environment Ranger

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