Poo germination trials – round two!
On a recent seed collecting outing near Penola, Yvonne spied a seed-filled emu poo, and given the success of the first poo germination trial, quickly gathered it up.
The new scat appeared to be full of Flame Heath (Astroloma conostephioides) seed, a plant we know emus feed on regularly when it’s flowering (leaving plenty of sloppy, flower filled scats as evidence) and now see they also feed on the species while in seed too. Yvonne performed a cut test to compare seed from the scat with fresh seed from the same species, and found that they remain viable post-digestion. It is hoped that a combination of smoke water treatment and digestive juices will crack the inbuilt dormancy and allow germination to occur.
When Yvonne first blogged about the emu scat trials (you can catch up here) she was not yet sure what the seed would turn out to be – but we can now reveal that we have thousands of Muntries (Kunzea pomifera) seedlings! This species is traditionally considered hard to grow from seed, so we are especially delighted with this experiment.Muntries grow as a groundcover and produce fuzzy white flowers in spring followed by purple berries. A taste for Muntries is something apparently emus and humans have in common – they are a popular bush tucker food and you may find muntrie jam at your local gourmet shop.
To get these seedlings into individual tubes in the coming weeks, the staff here are planning a ‘pricking out party’ (code for ‘all hands on deck’!).