Visitors to the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan might not realise there’s a lot more happening behind the wonderful living collections they stroll past.
Tucked around in carefully selected areas across the 416-hectare garden are plantings of hundreds of broad-leaved paperbark or Melaleuca quinquinervia
Broad-leaved paperbarks are key species in coastal swamps and lake margins along the east coast of Australia.
These beautiful trees, with their soft, papery bark and creamy white flowers are in the family Myrtaceae, one of the top three species-rich plant families in Australia.
Unfortunately, the species is susceptible to myrtle rust which was detected in Australia in 2010.
This plant pathogen from South America infects over 450 species in the Myrtaceae family and some of the Australian Myrtaceae are profoundly susceptible to this pathogen.
Several of them are now critically endangered because of the devastation caused by the disease.
That’s why disease resistant paperbark trees are being used in the plantings, which are being led by the Garden’s Horticulture
The project forms part of the larger NSW Government’s Greening our City
initiative (funded by Climate Change Fund), transforming large areas across the landscape where African Olive, an insidious, woody weed, once dominated.
By the end of June 2022, a total of 22,500 trees will have been added across the landscape.
The Garden’s Curator Manager, Michael Elgey, said it was great to see a landscape that was once heavily infested with such an environmentally harmful weed species now being planted out with a diverse array of 33 native tree species.