A tiny eucalypt seedling being raised at the Australian National Botanic Gardens could be the first of its species to germinate in Australia since the last ice age, a report on the front page said on this day in 1986.
The seedling was the only one to emerge from a batch of seed taken from an extremely rare eucalypt, found growing near Braidwood in a cluster less than 10 metres across.
Described as having "small, thick, fleshy leaves, studded with oil glands and curved slightly backwards at the tip", the Botanic Gardens researcher Mark Clements said it was linked to two high country cold-adapted species found near Cooma and Tasmania.
Conventional germination techniques for the seeds failed, and the only way the one seedling emerged was after it was exposed to an artificial winter in a fridge, simulating the conditions it would have experienced perhaps 8000 years ago.
The report said the situation, where the ungerminated seeds were taken from a cluster of plants was typical of some mallee species "where an original tree dies of age, but suckers arising from a very large sub-surface swelling called a lignotuber, survive. These suckers may in turn produce suckers from their own lignotubers, so that the original tree achieves a type of immortality".
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