The Socketwood Story: upcoming information nights

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) will hold information nights about the conservation of Illawarra Socketwood next week at Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Daphnandra Johnsonii, Illawarra Socketwood

Illawarra Socketwood (Daphnandra johnsonii) is a small, endangered rainforest tree unique to the Illawarra, with only 50 locations known from Toolijooa to Wombarra.

Socketwood is one of seven threatened flora projects in the Illawarra Threatened Flora program.

OEH Senior Threatened Species Officer, Jedda Lemmon, said the work includes improving socketwood habitat by fencing from stock, weed control and researching the species ecology through seed germination trials and genetic research with the Royal Botanic Gardens.

"During the work we made the exciting discovery of a new species of insect, a gall midge eventually identified by SA entomologist Dr Peter Kolesik, which is affecting the development of socketwood seed," Ms Lemmon said.

"This is an important discovery and extends our knowledge of the threats for this species" she said.

Socketwood largely reproduces from root suckers, rather than producing seedlings.

"The discovery of the gall midge may explain the low levels of seed set so we are now working with the Royal Botanic Gardens Restore and Renew program to find out whether it is the insect or a lack of genetic diversity disrupting seed development," Ms Lemmon said.

With funding from the OEH Saving our Species program, many people and organisations are working to secure the Illawarra Socketwood's future in the wild including the Kiama and Shellharbour Councils, Illawarra Landcare, Wollongong Botanic Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the University of Wollongong, quarry owners and private land owners.

To hear more about the project and the discovery of the new species of Socketwood Gall Midge come to:

  • Science and Schooners Bar, University of Wollongong Unibar on Tuesday, 4 September at 5.30pm
  • Shellharbour Library on Thursday, 7 September at 6pm