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Myrsine richmondensis

The species is now listed as endangered under both the NSW TSC Act 1995 and the Commonwealth EPBC Act 1999. The recovery plan for this species calls for the establishment of an ex situ seed collection as an insurance strategy against loss due to catastrophic events.

In 2006 our Seed Collectors visited a small population in Mallanganee National Park on the north coast of New South Wales, one of only three populations, and collected seed from three mature plants. Part of the seed collection was stored in the Seedbank, part was used in a research project on seed viability and storage at Mount Annan and the rest was sown.

The resultant 40 plants from this sowing were planted in Bed 4, the Rare or Threatened bed, on the Connections Garden at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan.

Research at the Australian Botanic Garden is improving our understanding of which rainforest species have seeds that can be dried and stored. Experiments on Myrsine richmondensis showed that seeds could be successfully dried to about 15% relative humidity, so they are desiccation tolerant (orthodox) and have the potential to be stored ex situ. 

Common nameripple-leaf muttonwood, purple-leaf muttonwood
Scientific nameMyrsine richmondensis Jackes
FamilyMyrsinaceae (= Primulaceae)

Genus: Comes from the ancient Greek pharmacologist and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides’ (c.40-90 CE) name for the myrtle, which did not refer to these plants.

Species: The original collections were all made in the Richmond River catchment.

DistributionThe species occurs only in New South Wales and is currently known from three populations within the Richmond River and Clarence River catchments. The species was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered on the Richmond River floodplain in 1987.
Native habitatOccurs in tall open sclerophyll forest with a rainforest subcanopy, swamp sclerophyll open forest and on the margins of subtropical rainforest.
DescriptionA small, evergreen tree or shrub to 5 m high that appears to reproduce both by suckering and producing fruit. The small cream flowers and purple fruit occur in the axils or on older leafless wood.
Flowering/fruitingFlowers in spring, followed by fruit in autumn.
Location in gardenIn bed 4, the Rare and Threatened bed, the Connections Garden at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan.
Garden ExplorerView Myrsine richmondensis on Garden Explorer