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Ten years of gifting endangered plants across Murraylands and Riverland
A regional initiative to give endangered native plants to children’s loved ones celebrates 10 years of operation in the Murraylands and the Riverland.
Over 10 years, the Precious Plants for Precious People program has distributed more than 4,000 plants to 70 schools across the Murraylands and the Riverland.
Precious Plants for Precious People was initially set up to provide schoolchildren with native plants to give to their mums on Mother’s Day.
The program now includes gifting native plants to other precious people who help raise young people, such as guardians, grandparents and family friends.
In 2023, over 1,300 native plants will be handed to school-aged children to give to their precious persons.
Another advantage of the program is that it can help improve the spread of threatened and endangered native plants, which can provide a source of food and habitat for native insects and animals and reduce domestic water use.
This year, Murraylands students gifted to their precious persons silver daisy bush plants, which are vulnerable due to weeds and grazing by livestock.
The silver daisy bush has special meaning for First Nation’s peoples who once used its roots as a source of food and water in dry months.
Precious Plants for Precious People is also a way to teach young people about the importance of local native species.
Unity College teacher Sharyn Phaup said that her class participated in the program, as she wanted the chance to link learning outcomes with the local environment.
“It’s exciting to see how the program has prompted the children to think about their local environment, with many reporting back to the class about things they’ve seen on bushwalks or on their own farms,” she said.
“Watching the expressions of our students has been so rewarding – they are very enthusiastic, animated and excited when we discuss the Monarto mintbush and the local animals that rely on them,” she said.
The Monarto mintbush is an endangered species of plant, with light purple and orange flowers; it grows only in two small, scattered populations at Monarto and around the Mount Monster Conservation Park.
In the Riverland, the native plant species chosen as gifts were selected to help save the vulnerable regent parrot, a bird first described and illustrated in 1831 by Edward Lear, author of The Owl and the Pussycat.
Only 400 breeding pairs of regent parrots are left in South Australia.
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