International oak collaborations for conservation collections and climate change planning


10 October 2022



In working with the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak (GCCO), Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) Melbourne obtained Quercus engelmannii acorns from Jim Henrich of Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden earlier this year. Jim Henrich and RBGV worked in collaboration to ensure the safe transfer and importation of acorns into Australia. With great success in propagating and growing the acorns at RBGV, a few saplings that were ready to plant were put into the ground by Peter Berbee (Arborist and Quercus Collection Curator, RBGV), Murphy Westwood, (Vice President of Science and Conservation and GCCO Lead, The Morton Arboretum), and Abby Meyer (BGCI-US Executive Director), in September. Melbourne plans to donate their excess Quercus engelmannii seedlings to botanic Gardens in Sydney, Blue Mountains, Orange, Warrnambool and Castlemaine. This will be an experimental trial to see how well they grow in different areas, as well as ensuring the species are represented across multiple sites for their survivability long-term. The curators of these botanic gardens are excited about adding this species to their collections.

The process to import acorns in Australia is much more streamlined and should make the future importation of acorns easier. The Melbourne Gardens, among other Australian garden partners have proven that if all the timing aspects of importing acorns go smoothly, the acorns can survive the travel and required phosphine fumigation. Australian botanic garden partners are more optimistic that they can serve as important partners for GCCO metacollections. Read more about the process and planning that went into the Q. engelmannii acorn project in this article.

Additionally, the Q. engelmannii plantings greatly align with the climate adaptation planning and conservation work that Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria are conducting. They are considering the changing climate in their region and planting species that will thrive in the garden into the future. They have recently planted several oak species from California, Mexico and Texas including, the loquat leaf oak, water oak, and valley oak. To further support these climate adaptation planning efforts, the Gardens, as part of the Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens, the University of Tasmania, and BGCI, have launched a Climate Assessment Tool that will allow botanic gardens to input their location and determine which tree species will thrive in their region given the predicted future climate. You can read more about the garden’s climate adaptation efforts in this article.

From back to front: Murphy Westwood, Abby Meyer and Peter Berbee are seen planting one of the Q. engelmannii saplings on the garden grounds.