Rare flora rescue in the Midwest

In 2015, the Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy set out a bold, action-based approach to protecting and recovering our threatened species.

When it comes to plants, the Strategy includes targets to: (i) improve trajectories of 30 threatened plants by 2020; and (ii) to insure all known threatened plants against extinction by 2020. One of these plants is Verticordia spicata subsp. squamosa or more commonly known as the Scaly-leaved Featherflower – which grows in mallee scrublands near Geraldton in WA.

Much of the habitat for this species has been historically cleared, and it now grows mainly along roadsides. Unfortunately there are now less than 40 plants left in the wild, with some plants being from established translocations. It is a shrub which grows up to 1.5m high and 1m across. It produces masses of pinkish-white feathery flowers at the ends of its branches during late spring and early summer (October to December).

To help improve the trajectory of this rare flora, NACC has been working with our local farmers and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to try to increase the size of the population. Actions undertaken to save the Scaly-leaved Featherflower have included seed collection, seed storage (banking), habitat protection and restoration, and replanting to enhance the wild populations.

NACC Biodiversity Coordinator Jessica Stingemore recently joined DBCA staff to assist in the seed collection efforts, and also to search for suitable translocations habitats. And, while the number of flowering plants was less than expected, a number of new suitable habitats in the region were identified as potential future translocation sites.

“Species close to extinction, like the Scaly-leaved Featherflower, require special effort to increase their chances of survival,” Jessica said.

“Both feral and native animal grazing is a threat and if not fenced-off, translocated plants risk being eaten.
“Sometimes seeds don’t propagate easily, and require unusual techniques to get them going. We also need to keep an eye on the weather – with drought and long hot spells hindering establishment and reproductive success.”

“Given the series of inter-related problems that exist for this species, NACC is proud to partner with DBCA and local farmers to help save this species from extinction.”

Fun Fact:

Verto is a Latin word meaning “to turn” and cordis is a Latin word for “heart” so that Verticordia translates literally as “turner of hearts”

 

With funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, NACC is proudly working with our local farmers and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to help improve the trajectory of our threatened species. 

 

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