Saturday, 19 August 2017

Family day at the Australian PlantBank

As part of National Science Week the Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan held the Plant Bank Party.

This family focused activity encouraged visitors to explore the mysteries of seeds, rainforests, rocks, reptiles, flowers, insects and botanical drawing.

The PlantBank Party was promoted as activities and games that would keep the kids interested and intrigued.

The Australian PlantBank entrance at the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan in 2017 (ABG)

On his visit to the PlantBank Party this blogger found a host of things to keep the visitor intrigued and interested. Professional staff were on hand to help the inquiring mind of grown-ups and little-grown-ups with answers to a host of questions.

The Australian PlantBank
The Royal Botanic Garden website states
The Australian PlantBank is a science and research facility of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and is located at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. It houses the Trust's seedbank and research laboratories that specialise in horticultural research and conservation of Australian native plant species, particularly those from New South Wales.
Some of the furry friends on display at the PlantBank Party for families at the Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan (I Willis)

Back-of-lab tour

The grown ups and littlies had the opportunity to do a back-of-lab tour which entered areas off-limits to ordinary visitors. Our expert guide took the visitor through the seed preparation area and sorting areas.

Our guide explained the ins-and-outs of collecting seeds in the field. We all had a look through a microscope at some acacia seeds. They look different up close.

Different seeds have different protection and can be hard to germinate. Some are triggered by bushfires and the lab has to copy the conditions of a bushfire.

The mysteries of mechanical seed sorting were demonstrated and shown how much time and energy it saves. Manual sifting is no fun and very slow.

The visitors looked through the heavily insulated tripled glazed window, (and they are 4-hour rated fire proofing as well) into the area of the cool room (4 degrees) and cold room (-20 degrees). Here the seeds are kept for years, sometimes decades.

Some of the thoughts for visitors to consider at the Australian PlantBank ABG (I Willis)

The tour then looked into the x-ray seed facility and finally back along the corridor to the plant-tissue culture room for preservation of plants where seeds cannot be preserved, eg, rainforest seeds.

Occasionally the seeds in storage are brought and propagated in the nursery out-the-back of the laboratories.

The nursery area had a scrumptious sausage sizzle run by the Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living for the hungry.


There were lots of activities for kids and big-kids. Doing  a botanical drawing while looking at the original is harder than you might think.

Big-kids had the opportunity to ask tricky questions of the experts on hand - propagation, pollination, ecologist, germination, and lots of others.

Visitor promotion at the Australian PlantBank ABG 2017 (I Willis)

Why is the Australian PlanBank important?

The website states
The Australian PlantBank brings together, under one roof, seed and living plant collections that form a resource for identification, research and restoration of Australian plants. The main function of the Australian PlantBank, through its science activities, will be to document the biology of species through studies in the field, the laboratory and in cultivation. It will therefore enhance other conservation initiatives as it will provide a unique function as the repository of regenerative material and the associated knowledge.

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