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Flannel flowers (Actinotus helianthi), until recently, were heavily harvested from wild populations. To protect this resource from over exploitation a research program was conducted to investigate the cut-flower potential of flannel flowers with a view to developing an export grade crop.
This project was funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and has had considerable success in changing the practice of bush-picking of flannel flowers for the domestic cut-flower markets. Research was carried out by our horticulture laboratories at the Australian Botanic Garden. The outcome of this work has lead to the development of a domestic and export industry based on cultivation of superior selections, along with the systematic development of propagation and cultivation techniques.
In 1998 our team received a Premiers Award for excellence in the category of environment/industry for the project.
During 2000-2001 we worked with the NSW Centenary of Federation Committee to commemorate the 100th anniversary to release selected flannel flowers under the trade mark ‘Federation Stars’, and to promote the flannel flower and other NSW plant species to all schools in NSW.
This project has had considerable benefits for the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust through promoting scientific research in the development and conservation of Australian plants. The project has had a number of outcomes for the horticulture industry: the establishment of a new cut-flower crop, new pot plant varieties for the nursery industry, information on growing flannel flowers, and various horticulture publications.