#ThreatenedSpecies of the Week: Moresby Range drummondita

Drummondita ericoides, more commonly known as the Morseby Range drummondita, is a shrub which typically growns between 5-20cm tall on ridges, or from 50 cm-1 m tall in sheltered gullies.

It has has scattered simple leaves which are terete, glabrous and about 8 mm long, with yellowish-white flowers are green at the tips, with 5 short sepals and 5 erect concave petals.

Moreseby Range drummondita.
Moreseby Range drummondita.

The Morseby Range drummondita is listed as ‘Endangered’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and as Declared Rare Flora under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

Drummondita ericoides has a number of factors which contribute to its threatened status.

It is threatened by inappropriate fire regimes: Too frequent fire outbreaks would cause localised extinction and such declines have been observed. A minimum fire interval has not been defined, but would need to be sufficient for soil-stored seed to accumulate and for rootstock to become healthy following fire. The species does not require fire for germination.

The species is potentially threatened by risks associated with inappropriate access to the nature reserves: Inappropriate access may cause arson, weed invasion, rubbish dumping, trampling and vehicular damage; however, there is no evidence of this occurring currently.

The 10 staminal filaments are united into a narrow hairy tube which protrudes beyond the petals and is white to violet. A crimson style projects beyond the stamens. Flowers are usually solitary and occur at the end of branchlets.

Drummondita ericoides is currently known over a range of about 20 km, in an area north of Geraldton. It grows amongst low heath on sandstone and laterite slopes, ridges and gullies of the Moresby Range, in brown loam or sandy loam and clay soils. It is associated with Melaleuca megacephala, M. cardiophylla, Acacia blakelyi, Hakea pycnoneura and Gastrolobium spinosum.

Very little is known about the biology of Drummondita ericoides. The flower structure suggests that they are likely to be insect-pollinated. Seed has been collected from Populations 1 and 2, but the viability of that seed is as yet unknown.

Drummondita ericoides populations currently have a good age structure, with both young plants and mature flowering plants present.

The rocky sandstone slope habitat of Drummondita ericoides was not a preferred landform and soil type for agriculture, and so was not highly cleared. In addition, the taxon has not been highly impacted by grazing due to its association with Gastrolobium spinosum, which is toxic to stock.

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

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