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After the book - Progress in parasitic plant research since Kuijt's Biology of Parasitic Flowering Plants (1969)

Holzapfel, Avi Sebastian [1].

Biology and Conservation of the New Zealand endemic parasitic plant Dactylanthus taylorii Hook f. (Balanophoraceae).

Dactylanthus taylorii Hook f. (Balanophoraceae) is an endangered holoparasitic plant endemic to New Zealand, parasitising roots of native tree and shrub species. It is pollinated by an endemic bat and introduced rodents. The morphology of the female flower is described and shown to be similar to most other Balanophoraceae, highlighting confusion in the literature about the female structures in the family. Development of the endosperm and embryo, germination and initial infection stages are shown for the first time. Contrary to most literature on holoparasitic plants, seeds of D. taylorii can germinate in the absence of a host and it is argued that this might also be true for other Balanophoraceae. The species is furthermore able to reproduce vegetatively through 1-2 mm long infectious roots which are morphologically and functionally similar to the radicle. Recent studies of genetic diversity point to geographic and genetic isolation of populations as a natural character of Dactylanthus rather than being caused by anthropogenic factors. Conservation efforts are coordinated by a national recovery group and their effect to date is summarized. The main threat for the species is considered to be reproductive failure caused by browsing of flowers and fruits through introduced mammals, including rats and mice. The dual role of these rodents as pollinators and browsers and the implications for conservation management of D. taylorii are discussed. In a current seeding trial flowering plants were first observed four years after sowing and raise the prospect of establishing new populations as a conservation management technique. The sex ratio of newly established plants differs significantly from that of older populations. This finding is discussed in regards to determination and stability of sex in the seemingly dioecious species.

Related Links:
Abstract of publication in Englera 22

1 - New Zealand Department of Conservation, Private Bag 3072, Hamilton, 2001, New Zealand

Parasitic plant
Dactylanthus taylorii
rodent browse
reproductive failure
genetic diversity
reproductive morphology.

Presentation Type: Symposium
Session: 16-5
Location: Ballroom 2 (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2004
Time: 3:15 PM
Abstract ID:200

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