Journal of the Australian Native Plants Society Canberra region (Inc)

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The incredible evolutionary journeys of Banksias and other Proteaceae out of Africa, and up the western and eastern coasts of Australia

By Stephen Saunders (Introduction)

Feb, 2024

Ever wondered why there is such a banksia explosion in Western Australia (WA), with relatively few species in eastern Australia?

Genetics sleuthing, by WA and South African plant scientists, offers surprising new answers via Antarctica.

Banksias are iconic Australian plants, but their ancestors actually came from North Africa

By Byron Lamont, Lynne Milne, Richard Cowling and Tianhua He (extract from The Conversation, January 29, 2024).

Few plants conjure up the Australian bush better than banksias, whose beautiful flowers are irresistible to honeyeater birds, small marsupials and nature lovers.

But our research, published in Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, shows that the ancestors of banksias actually migrated here from North Africa.

From early fossil pollen studies, we already knew that the protea family (Proteaceae), which includes banksias, grevilleas, waratahs and macadamias in Australia, originated in northwest Africa 130 million years ago.

Our task was to track their migration to Australia.

Read the full article on The Conversation at:

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