17 February 2022
Wildlife Queensland’s Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN) distributes tens of thousands of seeds of the caterpillar food vine Pararistolochia praevenosa annually to aid recovery of the endangered Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia) … but we still need more!
So far this year, RBCN committee member Richard Bull has distributed 4200 seeds! That’s why we’re encouraging all of our members, supporters, and social media followers to check their birdwing butterfly vines for ripe fruit (seed pods) to collect. If you have plenty and wish to share with us, we’d love for you to get in touch so we can collect the ripe seeds and use them to create the next season of seedlings for distribution.
Richmond birdwing butterfly caterpillars (larvae) feed and grow exclusively on two vine species – the lowland Richmond birdwing vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa) and the mountain aristolochia (Pararistolochia laheyana). These two plants are both being cultivated to assist in recovering crucial breeding habitats for Richmond birdwing larvae – and they need a lot of them.
Matt Cecil, Projects Manager for the RBCN, recently visited Tamborine Mountain Landcare Inc.’s 11-ha restoration site, where the group has been planting birdwing vines as part of a broader 3-year project to regenerate vegetation corridors and reserves in Tamborine Mountain. Led by President Judith Roland, and with expert vine planting advice from Richard Bull, the group has planted more than 500 birdwing vines at the site in the past year. As you can see, the need to keep collecting fruit and harvesting seeds so the RBCN can plant and distribute even more seedlings is very real.
Are your seeds ready to harvest?
Pararistolochia praevenosa fruit (seed pods). Images: Matt Cecil, Wildlife Queensland
At this stage in the season, most of the pods will be green or maybe just beginning to turn yellow and ripen (left). In March, the fruit usually become bright yellow, soft, ripe and ready to pick. We can then extract the seeds and preserve them in the RBCN seed bank.
Keeping seeds increases diversity and ensures a healthy supply is available for use in Richmond Birdwing recovery projects in the coming years.
Watch our short video to see whether your vine’s fruit are ready for collection.
Vital corridor creation
Seedlings grown from the seeds are later distributed to community and conservation groups to help replant vital corridors and are also made available for purchase to the public at approved garden centres and nurseries throughout the state.
So please, check your vines for ripening pods and make arrangements with Matt Cecil, Wildlife Queensland and Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network’s Projects Manager to have any ripe seeds collected or posted.
Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network can promise one potted vine for every person/family that provides ripe pods. Please email to let us know your seed availability and organise collection.