#ThreatenedSpecies of the Week: Gingin Wax

Chamelaucium sp. Gingin, or the Gingin Wax,  is listed as ‘Endangered’ under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and ‘Vulnerable’ under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

The main threats to the Gingin Wax are road, track, firebreak and fence maintenance activities, road construction projects, mining, inappropriate fire regimes, grazing, weed invasion, chemical drift and potentially disease.

Photo Credit: Andrew Brown
Photo Credit: Andrew Brown

Chamelaucium sp. Gingin is an open straggly shrub, which is normally 1-2m tall with many slender stiff branches that bear numerous 5-20 mm long axillary shoots.

Its erect, glandular, bright green leaves are 5.4-11.5 mm long by 1.2- 1.4 mm wide, and are scattered along the main branches, but are mostly crowded on numerous short axillary shoots. Leaves are attached to a 0.5-1.5 mm long petiole, which is frequently appressed to the stem.

The inflorescence is composed of a small head on short axillary shoots or sometimes a larger flower head at the end of main branches. The 6.6 – 9.2 mm flowers occur in groups of two to nine in small heads on axillary shoots.

The Gingin Wax is endemic to Western Australia and is apparently confined to the Gingin area. It is known from a range of only 3km. The six known populations contain a total of approximately 4700 adult plants and 1800 juveniles. The species occurs on white/yellow sand supporting open low woodland over open scrub, with Eucalyptus todtiana, Banksia attenuata and Hibbertia sp. Chamelaucium sp. Gingin does not occur in the nearby Adenanthos cygnorum and Kunzea ericifolia thickets.

The flower appears to be a reasonably long lived taxon, with plants known to be up to 16 years old. The species tends to produce suckers after fire and the plants then take up to five years before flowers and seeds are produced. Due to the species’ ability to sucker, it is possible that the genetic diversity within populations is low and this has implications for reproductive capacity.

European bees, native bees, native wasps, flies, and beetles have all been observed feeding on the nectar. To date there has been no field observation of the natural seed dispersal mechanisms, however, germination of seedlings in new areas has been achieved through movement of sand from underneath mature plants.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Chamelaucium sp. Gingin is frost resistant as mature plants on a landholder’s property were observed to survive a very heavy frost in 1987, and winter frosts are common in the area (landholder, personal communication.).

Information Source: Government of Australia, Department of Environment and Department of Parks and Wildlife Western Australia

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