Eucalyptus flower

Native plants and forestry

CSIRO uses traditional and molecular methods to better understand the variety and needs of Australia's native plants. We are also breeding and conserving Australian tree species for restoration of degraded environments and to help ensure global wood security.

  • 29 June 2010 | Updated 27 April 2012

Native plants diversity

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CSIRO's research helps to accurately classify native plants and understand their evolutionary history which is essential to maintain Australia's unique plant diversity.  

Classifying native plants

Characterising and understanding diversity in the groups, distribution and relationships of Australian plants is essential to conserve and manage biodiversity.

Having a reliable system to identify plants is important so that we can better:

  • study the evolutionary history of plants
  • understand the geographical distribution of plants
  • provide a system to recognise and differentiate species.
    Understanding the taxonomy and relationships of plants can have important flow-on effects for conservation practices.

CSIRO's research provides the latest, and sometimes only, revisions of the classification for many Australian plants.

Using information from both traditional and modern techniques, these revisions help us predict how plant relationships may have evolved.

We are clarifying relationships between plant groups by determining their boundaries and determining where plants belong in the classification system.

This research allows us to better understand, and therefore better manage and conserve, Australia's unique biodiversity.

Evolutionary history

To understand how we can best manage and sustain our use of Australia's native biodiversity, it is critical that we understand

  • the evolutionary processes that have generated this diversity
  • how human activity is altering these processes.

By better understanding evolution, we can:

  • identify and use native relatives of Australian crops with useful agronomic traits
  • manage catchment systems
  • control weeds
  • monitor the effects of introduced species
  • rehabilitate the Australian landscape with native plants.

Interactive plant identification keys

Using the expertise gained through taxonomic and phylogenetic research, CSIRO has produced interactive computer-based keys to identify several groups of Australian plants.

These keys are designed for use by:

  • scientists
  • natural resource managers
  • farmers
  • anyone interested in identifying native plants.

Currently available are:

We are also developing other keys including a key for:

  • grevilleas
  • pea-flowered legumes. 

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