Keywords: management, reseeder, resprouter, disease, harvesting



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Management Guidelines for Remnant Vegetation 

being Harvested for Cutflowers 

 

 

Keywords: 



management, reseeder, resprouter, disease, harvesting 

Location: Southwest 

WA 

 

Land for Wildlife  



Liesl Rohl and Russell Smith 

Author: 


  

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 

Harvesting wax flower. Photo: D. Lamont

  

 



 

 

Western Australia's cut wildflower industry has 



become a multi-million dollar industry. Currently in 

WA over 250 species of protected flora are 

harvested for their flowers and foliage and more than 

600 pecies for their seed from both Crown land and 

private property. 

 

Flower production from bushland on private property 



is increasing as land holders become aware of the value 

of their flora. It is now estimated that more than 20% of 

WA's native cutflower exports come from remnant 

vegetation on private property. Management of these 

bushlands is required to ensure that the bush is preserved,  

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

not only because of its conservation value, but also to 



ensure sustainable harvesting can continue into the 

future. 


 

Sustainable harvesting practices are also required 

under Commonwealth law where the flora is harvested 

for export. Western Australia has a management program 

for the harvesting of native flora which provides for flora 

exports, and these management guidelines are a strategy 

to support this management plan. 

 

It should be understood that some techniques which 



are used to improve production of protected flora for cut  

 

 



 

 

flowers and foliage from remnant vegetation may have 



the potential to adversely affect the nature conservation 

values of that vegetation, and to contribute to 

soil and water degradation. Land managers are 

thus advised to carefully assess management practices 

and their potential impacts before undertaking bush 

management for flower production. 

Seasonal variations also need to be taken into account. 

For example, in drought years plants become stressed. If 

you harvest as you would in a `normal' year this 

may stress the plants further and they may die. 

The following guidelines have been written as a 

general guide for managing remnant vegetation for cut 

flowers. 

 

FIRE 

Fire affects plant regeneration in different ways 

depending on whether the plant is a reseeder  or a 



resprouter. 

 

Reseeder species rely upon seed stored on the plant 

or in the soil to replace parent plants after fire. To 

replenish this `seed bank', plants must be able to reach 

maturity, flower and set seed. The time involved varies 

for different species and it is best estimated by studying 

the plants you wish to harvest as well as the other species 

in your remnant(s). 

Some species only regenerate from seed, these 

species are called obligate seeders. It is important 

that fires do not occur at a frequency which prevents 

these plants establishing a new store of seed. For 

remnants which are harvested for cut flowers and seed, 

the time between managed fires should be increased 

to allow a greater time for a seed store to be built up. 

 

Resprouters  shoot again from buds protected 

beneath their bark or on their rootstocks (underground 

stems). To do this they use up food reserves stored in 

roots and stems. 

These plant species can generally survive stress such 

as fire, drought and some grazing. However, if fire or 

grazing occurs too frequently these plants do not have 

enough time to build up new food reserves and each 

resprouting becomes weaker until the plant eventually 

dies. If resprouter species are killed, viable seed needs 

to be available to re-establish them. 

Many plants reproduce by both methods, seeds 

and resprouting. Each remnant will have a mixture 

of reseeder and resprouter species. 

The required interval between fire may vary between 

remnants, depending on the species present. Fire may 

increase the number of native species in an area if it has 

not been burnt for a long time, provided appropriate seed 

is present, and the fire is at the right temperature and time 

of year. 

However, if the fires are too frequent, especially in 

small remnants which have been harvested for flowering 

stems, local extinction of fire-sensitive native species 

 

 



 

 

 



may occur and weed establishment will increase, 

especially if there is potential for weeds to enter 

from surrounding farmland. 

Weeds produce many thousands of seeds each year 

and are not disadvantaged by frequent burning. Many 

native plant species are weakened by fire and are 

replaced by weeds. Burning should not be used as a way 

of removing weeds. 

The desirable time to burn for both reseeders and 

resprouters is in autumn after the first rains. This 

ensures that there is enough water to help with seedling 

establishment and helps prevent shallow rootstocks from 

being harmed. 

If burning is used as a management tool, the time 

between fires should be at least twice as long as the time 

to maturity of the slowest growing reseeder species. It 

is advisable to separate the remnant bushland into a 

number of areas using firebreaks so that only part of the 

stand is removed from flower production at any one time. 

Another benefit of dividing your remnant into 

compartments is if a burn is followed by a drought year, 

a plague of locusts or rabbits, or sheep get into it, not all 

of the remnant is at risk of being degraded - only the part 

that has been burnt. 

 

 

DISEASE 



 

Care should be taken not to introduce Phytophthora 

root-rot and other diseases into the remnant bushland. 

Although some species are resistant to Phytophthora 

fungus other species occurring in the remnant may be 

vulnerable. Many species in the Banksia, Isopogon, 



Lambertia, Persoonia, Petrophile, Xylomelum, 

Thryptomene, Verticordia, Andersonia, Astroloma, 

Lysinema and Hibbertia genera are particularly sensitive 

to Phytophthora. 

The Phytophthora pathogen is most often spread in 

soil attached to vehicles and on the bottom of shoes, 

particularly in moist environments. Great care must be 

taken to prevent its introduction or spread. Harvesting of 

flora in warm wet conditions is likely to spread this and 

other diseases which are active in moist conditions. 

Good hygiene measures are essential, e.g. clean all 

machinery, vehicles and footwear between each stand 

and restrict access by livestock and vehicles (see 

references for detail). 

Aerial canker fungi are also a potential problem, 

especially for some Banksia  and  Eucalyptus  species. 

Secateurs should be disinfected between plants to prevent 

cross-infection and pruning paint can be used to protect 

fresh cuts. Dead or dying stems should be cut from the 

plant below the site of disease expression (figure 1), 

removed and burnt to prevent disease spread. 

Secateurs and knives should always be disinfected 

between stands to reduce the risk of disease introduction. 

Wiping the secateurs and knives with a cloth soaked in 

methylated spirits is a quick way of disinfecting them. 

 

 



 

 

 

Land for Wildlife  



 

 

 

PRUNING 

Some species, including many banksia and dryandra 

species, respond well to pruning. Pruning of plantation-

grown and wild banksias and dryandras is considered a 

good horticultural practice which is used to improve the 

production of commercial quality blooms. In general it 

takes approximately 1 to 2 years after pruning for bloom 

production to increase for these species. 

Pruning can be used as an alternative to burning, with 

bloom production being much quicker than after a burn. 

Light pruning (into 1-2 year-old wood) increases the 

proportion of commercial quality blooms, but heavy 

pruning, into 4 - 6 year-old wood, often decreases bloom 

production and may even kill some of the plants. In 

general, pruning should not remove all the green leaves 

from the stem being cut. 

The age of stems can be gauged for banksias and 

dryandras by counting the number of annual nodes 

(raised areas on stem formed at the end of each growth 

season) back from the growing tip (figure 2). 

Tip pruning can also be used at an early stage to 

increase branching and hence the number of stems. 

 

FENCING 

Stock and rabbits eat the seedlings, compact the soil, 

cause soil erosion, and can also spread plant diseases and 

introduce weeds into the area. 

It is strongly recommended that bushland used for 

cut-flower production be fenced to exclude stock. Studies 

have shown that the general health of remnant bushland 

declines if it is grazed. 

 

 

 Figure 2. How to age banksias 



 

 

FERTILISER 

Fertilisers are generally detrimental to remnant 

bushland. Some species, particularly members of the 

Proteaceae (eg Banksia, Dryandra), are harmed and 

weed invasion is encouraged. If applied near waterways, 

fertilisers also have the potential to be washed into them, 

and contribute to the pollution of waterbodies in the area. 

Fertiliser addition is not recommended in most 

situations. 

 

SLASHING 

Slashing is not recommended for reseeder species. 

Slashing alters the bush vegetation if a large proportion 

of non-sprouting reseeder plants are killed by the slashing. 

If slashing is to be conducted to promote growth of 

resprouters the following guidelines should be followed: 

• 

slashing should be done 30 cm above the ground 



• 

only a portion of the remnant bushland is slashed at 

any one time to ensure adequate seed 

germination and seedling survival in the area 

• 

slashing be conducted from mid autumn to early 



winter 

• 

tractor tyres may cause some compaction of the soil 



and damage to other species. Tractor powered 

slashing should not be carried out more frequently 

than once in 10 years. To reduce the risk of soil 

erosion, tractor-powered slashing should not be carried 

out on steep (> 20%) slopes. 

 

 



 

Figure 1. Aerial canker. 



 

HARVESTING 

Plants without rootstocks (underground stem), have 

a limited capacity to resprout, and incorrect harvesting of 

young plants can result in plant death. Heavy harvesting 

of reseeder species reduces the general health of plants 

and their capacity to produce and accumulate seed. It is 

therefore important to ensure that there will be sufficient 

seed reserves to replace the parent plants in the event of 

a fire. 

Seed is also lost through predation by rabbits, birds 

and many insects; this needs to be taken in to account 

when harvesting flowering stems from reseeder species 

such as Banksia baxteri, B. coccinea, B. hookeriana, 

Dryandra formosa, and Verticordia eriocephala. 

Harvesting all the available flowers from a bush, or 

when the plant is too young, often kills the plant especially 

if no shoots with green leaves are left below the harvest 

cuts. 

In general the following should be followed for 



reseeders: 

• 

no more than 30% of blooms should be harvested 



• 

a stand should not be harvested for flowers or foliage 

for a year prior to it being burnt 

• 

green leaves must be left below the harvest cut 



• 

knives or secateurs should be used for harvesting 

to help get an even cut. 

Plants which resprout often die if harvested at ground 

level, others regenerate very slowly. These species also 

suffer from stress if harvested too young. 

In general the following harvesting techniques should 

be followed for resprouters: 

• 

plants should not be cut less than 30 cm above ground 



level 

• 

a knife or secateurs should be used for harvesting 



to help get an even cut 

• 

depending on the number of good quality stems and 



the age of the plant, about 20% - 60% of the current 

season's growth can be taken. 

 

 

LICENSING 



Under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, flora 

native to Western Australia is protected. If you wish to 

sell protected native flora taken from private 

land you need a Commercial Producer's 

License or a Nurseryman's License (PN). This 

license costs $25 per year. 

Contact your nearest CALM office or CALM in 

Como for an application form. 

Note: the landowner's permission is also required 

to harvest protected flora from private property. 

 

 

 



Published by the Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth. 

All correspondence should be addressed to: The Editor' Wildlife Notes', CALM Wildlife Branch, 

Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983. Phone: (08) 9334 0530, Fax (08) 9334 0278 

Design and Desktop publishing by Louise C. Burch Graphic Designer. 

 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

  



Meeboldina scariosa (formerly Leptocarpus 

scariosus) being harvested. Photo: C. Robinson. 

FURTHER INFORMATION 

Specific management guidelines and recommendations 

have been written for the following species: 

Agonis sp., ("coarse ti-tree"), Agonis parviceps, 

("fine ti-tree"), Banksia baxteri, ("baxteri"),  B. 



coccinea, ("coccinea"), B. hookeriana, ("hookerana"), 

Dryandra formosa, ("formosa"),  Meeboldina scariosa 

("velvet rush" for female plant, "seeded rush" for 

male) and Verticordia eriocephala ("cauliflower" or 

"brownii"). 

These guidelines can be obtained by contacting CALM 

Wildlife Branch on 9334 0455. 

 

REFERENCES

 

Hussey, B.M.J. and Wallace, K.J. 1993. 



M a n a g i n g   Your Bushland. 

Department of 

Conservation and Land Management, Perth. 

Kilgour, S. 1999. Managing Dieback in Bushland: 



a guide for landholders and community conservation 

groups. Dieback Working Group, Kalamunda. 

 

About the Authors 

Liesl Rohl is the Flora Industry Botanist at CALM 

Wildlife Branch, Como. 

Russell Smith is Ecologist (Rare Flora) based at 

CALM, Bunbury. 



 

 

 




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