New research increases knowledge of ornamental eucalypts and paves the way for new varieties

Eucalypts NGIA blog image 1Researchers at the University of Adelaide have been engaged in research and development of eucalypt species for ornamental horticulture since 1996. This has involved breeding and selection, along with postharvest and production trials. In 2010, the University and Horticulture Australia Ltd, in partnership with three Australian nurseries, began a project to ‘NY09023 – Gain a better understanding of ornamental eucalypts’, involving research into reproductive biology, flowering phenology and environmental influences, and clonal propagation. The Voluntary Contribution (VC) project was funded through the nursery industry levy with support from the Australian Government through Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL).

Project NY09023 is nearing completion, and has produced considerable new information on how various ornamental eucalypt species produce flowers and seed, and how this can be manipulated to produce new hybrid varieties.  Eucalypt pollen has been studied, looking at optimal temperatures for storage and germination. Information has also been gathered on the influence of weather on flower development and plant growth. Clonal propagation was a major focus of the project, with the nurseries working to develop and improve propagation of eucalypts by grafting, cuttings and tissue culture. Both grafting and tissue culture have been successful to date, and several new varieties of eucalypts suitable for home gardens and the urban forest are under development and trialling. It is hoped that the project will receive further funding and continue, thus enabling the new varieties to reach their full potential.

A review of the Project will be presented at the upcoming 2013 IPPS Conference in Melbourne. For further information please contact Dr Kate Delaporte at the University of Adelaide on kate.delaporte@adelaide.edu.au