Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Floral- and leaf-character variation in waratah (Telopea speciosissima, family Proteaceae), with reference to conservation and horticultural improvement

C. A. Offord
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

Botanic Gardens, Trust Mount Annan Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, NSW 2567, Australia.Email: Cathy.Offord@rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

Australian Journal of Botany 55(7) 684-691 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT06211
Submitted: 26 October 2006  Accepted: 28 May 2007   Published: 15 November 2007

Abstract

Univariate analysis (ANOVA) of waratah (Telopea speciosissima (Sm.) R.Br.) floral and leaf characters, chosen primarily for their horticultural importance, showed that there were detectable differences among populations and indicated, for most characters studied, that variation was greater among the tested natural populations than within. There were significant differences between some populations for all variables except inflorescence height. Inflorescence colour, particularly style colour, showed the greatest variation among populations and leaf margin type, leaf width and flower number were also variable. Inflorescence width, bract number, bract width, leaf length and leaf apex shape were variable within populations; however, they were less useful in distinguishing between populations. Multivariate analysis of characters (principle component analysis, PCA; or canonical variate analysis, CVA) showed unique character combinations in several of the populations studied. Natural waratah populations of this species can, therefore, be explored for unique, although subtle character variations for horticultural development. Conservation efforts should seek to maintain genetic diversity in natural populations and ensure that cultivated populations capture and maintain an appropriate level of diversity for continued selection and horticultural improvement.


Acknowledgements

I thank the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, the Plant Breeding Institute of the University of Sydney, especially Professor Don Marshall, Dr Fred Stoddard and Dr Peter Sharp. Also, many thanks go to Peter Cuneo for map production, and Faye Cairncross and other staff at Mount Annan Botanic Garden for field support. An anonymous reviewer provided helpful comments on the manuscript.


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