Desmodium Update!

Here's the letter I received from Richard Schahinger the senior botanist from the department of primary industries, parks, water and environment, regarding the Desmodium growing on our property.

Hi Grace,

Many thanks for that.   It’s an interesting one, in that for years we thought we had just the one species of Desmodium in Tasmania, D. gunnii (currently listed as vulnerable).  It was only when botanical surveys were undertaken of your block in 2004/2005 that D. varians came to light (it’s also known from Victoria), the diagnostic features being the shape of the fruit (lobed on one side rather than both, as evident in your photos) & the character of the three leaflets (with the ‘stem’ of the middle one being much longer than the two side ones).   We’ve tried to convince ourselves from herbarium collections that D. varians may also be at a couple of other sites in Tasmania, but without the fruit it’s been problematic.  Having said that, the week after I talked to Brendan  I visited a property in the Fingal Valley & turned up what appears to be good varians at a site that been recorded previously as D. gunnii (see the attached pic), in the 100s to 1000s, & in not dissimilar habitat to Ford Road (D. gunnii tends to be more of a forest species, which was what prompted me to check out the seemingly atypical Fingal site).  So that’s where we’re at at present: essentially two confirmed sites.

It would be great if you keep an eye on the fruit.  When things look ‘right’ I’ll get someone from the Royal Tas Botanical Gardens to collect seed for storage at their Seed Conservation Centre (as well as growing stock plants on as well).

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