Have you ever heard the term ‘local provenance’ when you have been buying seedlings? A ‘provenance’ is a plant population containing a local genetic variation.
Local provenance plants are grown from seed (or cuttings) collected from healthy plants growing near to and in similar environmental conditions as the intended planting site, which gives new plants the best chance of survival.
Many native plant species in Marion also occur naturally across large areas of Australia, such as the River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) or Kangaroo grass (Themeda australis).
However, plants growing in a specific area have adapted to localised conditions over a long period of time. For example, the River Red Gums along the Sturt River are genetically different to the same species growing along the Todd River Alice Springs or the Murray River in Victoria.
It is important to conserve these genetic variations wherever we can, as they ensure a plant is better adapted to its local conditions.
For example, even though the Adelaide Plains is hugely changed from its pre-1836 conditions, local provenance plants still remain better suited to local soil, temperatures, rainfall and wind conditions.
They support a wider range of locally native animals and plants than introduced species, and will have a better chance of thriving without the need for irrigation or fertilisers.
Preserving local provenance populations is an important way of protecting biodiversity. Planting local-native seedlings increases the success of revegetation projects and decreases the risk of disrupting the remaining flora gene pool.
It also helps to maintain the unique local character of where we live, while boosting its conservation value for the next generation.
So before buying a native plant for your garden ask about local provenance options at your nurseries. Species lists of seedlings planted by our volunteers are available for free from Friends of Sturt River Landcare Group.