#ThreatenedSpecies of the Week: Ptilotus fasciculatus (Fitzgerald’s Mulla-mulla)

Threaten speciesThe Ptilotus fasciculatus, also known as Fitzgerald’s Mulla-mulla, is a perennial herb with short leafy branches and upright, simple flowering stems. It is found in open shrubland and grows in white-grey, sandy-loam, clay soils in moist, saline conditions.

The perennial herb is endemic to Western Australia and is located in eleven separate subpopulations in the southern part of the State and has a linear range running parallel to the coast (north-north-west to south-south-east), in areas surrounding Kondinin, Carnamah and Coorow. The most southern tip of the range is 180 km east of Perth.

It has a total population of approximately only 3300 individuals and its main identified threats are increasing salinity, and grazing by rabbits  and kangaroos.

It has hairless leaves that are narrow and usually about 10–14 mm long. The spherical pink flower spikes are usually about 2.5 cm in diameter on white, woolly stems, up to 13 cm tall. The broad, straw-coloured bracts and bracteoles are 3 mm long and have long, soft, shaggy hairs.

Ptilotus fasciculatus was previously taxonomically confused with Ptilotus caespitulosus. This species was previously thought to be extinct until collections made in 1987 (misidentified as Ptilotus caespitulosus) were correctly identified as P. fasciculatus in 2000.

The Ptilotus fasciculatus is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and as Declared Rare Flora under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

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

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