BGANZ Seasol Plant Challenge 2023

'Inspirational Plants & People'

As part of Botanic Gardens Day, 2023, Botanic Gardens Australia & New Zealand (BGANZ) invited friends and volunteers of botanic gardens to share a story about ‘Inspirational Plants and People’. #plantchallenge

The Friends of MRBBG posted a video (created by Greg Miller), showcasing the work done by the Friends to conserve the Near Threatened species, Pararistolochia praevenosa. Take a look!

Preservation and conservation of Richmond Birdwing Butterfly vine
at Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens (MRBBG) at Tanawha on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast

by Greg Miller

One of the projects at MRBBG is to educate the public about the Pararistolochia praevenosa vine (Richmond Birdwing butterfly vine) which is growing wild in the adjacent reserve, plus on trellis’s in the Gardens.

The vines are the only food source for the Richmond Birdwing butterfly Ornithoptera richmondia, which is the largest subtropical butterfly in Australia. This vine is listed as Near Threatened in Queensland and remains the focus of a range of habitat conservation efforts in our region.

The vine itself grows predominately in lowland, subtropical rainforest below 600 meters and can also be found growing in littoral rainforest behind coastal sand dunes and on headlands or in mixed forests with eucalypt emergents. The vines prefer nutrient-rich soils such as volcanic alluvial soils with high moisture content and cannot tolerate fire. They will also grow on fences and can be grown as companion vines with other species of native vines, and can also be grown in large tubs. Flowering occurs mostly between September to November and pollination is by tiny flies. Pollinated flowers grow into seed capsules which turn yellow/orange when ripe, with each capsule containing anywhere between 20 to 60 seeds. These ripe seed capsules become soft and will fall to the ground where they are dispersed and buried by brush turkeys as they feed on their pulp.

The Birdwing butterfly has a symbiotic relationship with this vine as the vines emit pheromones to attract the butterfly. The butterfly usually lays only one egg at a time and this is on the younger leaves higher up on the vine.

At MRBBG the Friends along with the Sunshine Coast Council are in the process of building an arbour to educate the general public about the butterfly and the vine. Vines are being are being planted at this new trellis complex which also includes related artwork, interpretation and new garden beds featuring butterfly-attracting local plants.