#ThreatenedSpecies of the Week: Frankenia conferta

Frankenia conferta is also known as the Silky Frankenia. It is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) and as Declared Rare Flora under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

Close up of Frankenia conferta

Frankenia conferta was first collected from the Avon District and at Cummening, east of York by Martha Heal in 1890. It was subsequently thought to have become extinct until rediscovered northwest of Ballidu during a survey conducted in 2000/2001 as part of a ‘Botanical Survey of the Wheatbelt’. In 2003, surveys were conducted resulting in five new populations being discovered, one population near Marchagee north of Moora and the others in Koorda and Cowcowing. Currently the species is known from nine populations which together contain approximately 2000 plants.

Frankenia conferta is a small shrub with the stems, leaves and calyx covered with short, soft hairs. The stalkless, linear leaves are clustered at the nodes of the stem. They are 2 to 5 mm long, 1 mm wide and their margins are recurved to cover the midrib. Flowers are grouped in dense heads at the tops of the branches. The flowers are 6 to 8mm long and have five petals, which are usually pale pink. There are six stamens and the style branches into 3 linear segments.

Frankenia conferta is widely distributed between Dalwallinu, Perenjori, Coorow and Koorda. However, sites are localised and sparsely scattered within lake chains and major drainage lines in the Yarra Yarra, Ninghan and Avon catchments. The species is located around the high water mark of lake shorelines to the tops of low berms within saline pans. Plants also occur on the floor of major drainage lines within localised swales where they are subject to seasonal inundation. The species grows among other halophytic shrubs on clay sands with gypsum or white-grey shallow sand over clay. Associated species include Halosarcia spp. and Atriplex holocarpa.

Benefits to other species/ecological communities: There are no other known listed threatened species or ecological communities in the habitat of Frankenia conferta. However, recovery actions implemented to improve the quality or security of the habitat of populations of F. conferta are likely to also improve the status of habitat in which populations are located.

The main threat to the species is changes to hydrology from rising salinity and waterlogging.

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

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