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Fragile Fauna and Unique Flora

APPROXIMATELY 70 per cent of our region’s coastal reserves are contained within the vegetated heaths and dune reserve system, within which are some of the world’s most endangered and rare flora and fauna.

Fragile Fauna

Baudin's or long-billed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii)

International Union for Conservation of Nature status: Endangered

THIS endangered creature is one of two species of white-tailed black cockatoo (the other being Carnaby's black cockatoo) endemic to south-west WA which were separated taxonomically in 1948.

The bird is closely associated with moist, heavily forested areas dominated by marri trees and is threatened by habitat destruction. It is thought there are between 10,000 and 15,000 living in the wild with just 10 per cent making up the breeding population.

A fully-grown Baudin's black cockatoo is usually about 56cm long. Its feathers are mostly dark-grey with narrow light-grey scalloping. It has a crest of short feathers on its head and white patches covering its ears. Its lateral tail feathers are white with black tips and the central tail is all black. Its beak is longer and narrower than the closely related short-billed (Carnaby's) black cockatoo.

Adult males have dark grey beaks and pink eye-rings, while females have a bone-coloured beak, grey eye-rings and paler ear patches.

Areas identified by BirdLife International as being important conservation sites are Araluen-Wungong, Gidgegannup, Jalbarragup, Mundaring-Kalamunda, North Dandalup, the Stirling Range and The Lakes.

Baudin's black cockatoos have already disappeared from more than 25 per cent of their former range, mainly due to agricultural land clearing, yet habitat loss continues through urban development, forestry and mining operations.

Although it is illegal to kill black cockatoos in WA, the single greatest and most urgent threat facing this species is illegal shooting by orchardists.

South-west WA is a productive apple and pear growing region, supplying fruit to domestic and international markets. As their natural food sources have decreased, Baudin's black cockatoos feed on apples and pears, causing significant crop damage.

Exclusion netting is the most effective way to protect crops from bird damage, but installing it is too expensive to be viable for many orchardists.

Frightening the birds away using loud noise from gas guns or motorcycles is time-consuming and laborious and with residential land encroaching on horticultural regions, use of noise-making devices is becoming more restricted.

As a result, some orchardists resort to illegally shooting the birds. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature is reaching out to responsible growers, fruit pickers, local communities and birdwatchers to report illegal shooting of black cockatoos.

The Department of Environment and Conservation estimates round 200 Baudin's cockatoos are shot each year, but the actual figure may be much higher. Population modelling shows that for even the most conservative estimates of bird deaths through shooting, Baudin's cockatoos may be extinct within the next 50 years.

If you suspect black cockatoos are being shot or illegally harmed or captured, please telephone Department of Environment and Conservation Wildcare 24hr Hotline on (08) 9474 9055.

Carnaby's or short-billed black cockatoo – (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) 

Ccarnabys Black Cockatoo

Carnaby's black-cockatoos are found only in Western Australia and can live for up to 50 years in the wild.

International Union for Conservation of Nature status: Endangered

THE endangered Carnaby's black cockatoo only exists in the south-west of WA and was named by naturalist Ivan Carnaby in 1948. Large scale land clearing has caused its population to decrease by 50 per cent since 1960. Because this bird lives up to 50 years, a large proportion of its remaining population is past breeding age.

Between the 1970s and 1990s, Carnaby's black cockatoos disappeared from more than one-third of their former range and are now locally extinct in many parts of WA's central Wheatbelt.

Carnaby's are only known to live in uncleared or remnant areas of woodland, principally salmon gum eucalyptus or wandoo, shrubland or kwongan heath dominated by hakea, dryandra and banksia species.

Females have white beaks and males black and a pink eye-ring, while both have a white cheek patch. Carnaby's pair for life and when a chick leaves the nest, it is the size of an adult, weighing more than either of its parents. The young then flies off with its parents to higher rainfall coastal regions for the duration of the January - August non-breeding season.

Here they gather in large flocks, sometimes numbering several hundred birds, which can give the misleading impression that the Carnaby's cockatoo is a common species.

The birds eat banksia, grevillea, hakea and eucalypts seed and have also learned to feed on introduced species, such as wild radish, canola, nut crops and pines, which can bring them into conflict with farmers.

During the non-nesting season, the birds can be seen in banksia woodlands, coastal heath, pine-tree plantations and in remnant bushland parks and gardens in Perth.

Dibbler - (Parantechinus apicalis)

International Union for Conservation of Nature status: Endangered

THE endangered dibbler was thought to be extinct for more than 60 years, but in 1967 a pair were discovered by chance at Cheyne Beach, east of Albany.

Dibblers were once widespread across the hinterland of south-west WA and the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Nowadays they are only known on Boullanger, Whitlock and Escape islands off Jurien Bay and conservation areas including the Fitzgerald River and Stirling Range national parks and the Creek Reserve, where they were re-introduced.

Dibblers are solitary, mostly nocturnal marsupials, weighing about 40–100g with strong jaws and large canine teeth for killing prey, which includes mice, small birds and lizards, as well as insects and other invertebrates. They are very agile animals and despite spending much of their time on the ground, often climb bushes to lick the nectar from flowers.

They are usually around 10–16cm long with a 7.5-12cm short tapering tail - distinctive features include a white eye-ring and grey-brown fur flecked with white hairs. The dibbler's natural habitat is unburnt dense heathland with a thick layer of leaf litter and sandy soils. They can be found sleeping in hollow logs and caves during the day.

Their breeding season is between March and April with a gestation of around 45 days, after which the mother gives birth to 6-8 young. Dibblers are under threat through loss of habitat caused by land clearing, Pytophthora dieback, wildfires and invasive predators such as foxes and cats.

Gilbert's potoroo - (Potorous gilbertii)

International Union for Conservation of Nature status: Critically Endangered

WITH an estimated wild population of less than 50, the critically endangered Gilbert's potoroo is one of the world's rarest mammals and is only known to exist at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, near Albany.

The potoroo was rediscovered in 1994 after having been thought extinct for more than 100 years. The mammal takes its name after naturalist John Gilbert, who in 1840 was the first European to record it. Potoroo remains have also been discovered between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste.

Potoroos are small, nocturnal rat kangaroos with dense fur and bear a resemblance to bandicoots. They have long hind feet with extended, front curved claws which they use to dig for food. Males grow to around 36cm and an average weight of 1kg.

They inhabit low, dense heath containing many small patches of open ground and feed mainly on mycorrhizal fungi. Studies have shown potoroos travel up to 1km from their daytime shelters while foraging and return to the same area each morning.

Females become sexually mature by the end of their first year and males may breed before the end of their second. Breeding occurs throughout the year and there is evidence to suggest Gilbert's potoroo has a monogamous reproducing system. Gestation period is not known but is believed to be less than the 38 days for the long-nosed potoroo (P.Tridactylus). Pouch life is probably about four months where the young remain until they weigh around 190g.

Predation by foxes and cats and altered fire regimes resulting in a loss of dense vegetation may all be to blame for the decline in Gilbert's potoroo.

Noisy scrub-bird – (Atrichornis clamosus)

Noisy scrub bird

International Union for Conservation of Nature status: Endangered

THE noisy scrub-bird was presumed extinct until 1961, when a small population was discovered at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, 40km east of Albany. It is estimated around 860 are left in the wild and it remains one of Australia's rarest birds.

From the time of its rediscovery and 1976 it was largely confined to the Mt Gardner area of Two Peoples Bay, but since then a recovery plan has been put into action. Populations of the bird have been translocated to nearby Waychinicup National Park, Bald Island and the Porongorup Range, where a wildfire in February 2007 destroyed much of the population.

The noisy scrub-bird grows to around 22-26cm and has short, rounded wings, a long, rounded tail and a triangular head profile. Adults are dark brown above with faint dark barring and contrasting reddish-brown wings. They are grey-brown below merging to reddish-brown on vent and undertail-coverts and cream on the lower breast.

Males have a blackish triangle on the throat with bold whitish stripes at the sides, while the female has a whitish throat. Juveniles are unbarred above with a rich, buff fore-neck and breast. The similar western bristlebird (Dasyornis longirostris) lacks the dark barring and has pale scallops on its back and breast.

Male birds have a powerful, penetrating directional call. The main territorial song is highly variable within and between individuals, but is generally a sweet, descending crescendo, falling and accelerating into a loud climax.

For further information go to - http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=5164

Red-tailed phascogale – (Phascogale calura)

Red-tailed-PhascogaleOne of the red-tailed phascogale's many unusual characteristics is that it doesn't drink and retains water through its food. Photo by (Greg Barron)

International Union for Conservation of Nature status: Near Threatened.

THE red-tailed phascogale, also known as the red-tailed wambenger, is a small carnivorous marsupial found in the southern Wheatbelt of WA and is one of only two species of the animal – the other being the brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa).

It was described in 1844 by naturalist and artist John Gould – its scientific name means "beautiful-tailed pouched-weasel".

Its fur is mostly ash-brown, fading to white under the belly. Its tail is a deep rust extending to a hairy black brush at the end, which at 13–14cm, is almost as long as the phascogale's body.

For a three-week period in July, males embark on an exhausting and fatal frenzy of mating and travel large distances to mate with as many females as possible. However, during this period, the males' immune system fails before they reach 12 months and the animals succumb to stress-related illnesses and die.

Females usually survive the mating season to breed a second or third time. Their gestation period is about 30 days and they normally give birth to between six and 15 babies.

The red-tailed phascogale is an arboreal species and can jump around 2m from branch to branch. It has a varied diet, feeding on insects, spiders, small birds and mammals, notably the house mouse. It does not drink and retains water through its food.

The phascogale's natural habitat is tall, dense climax vegetation such as wandoo and rock sheoak. It has developed a resistance to the fluoroacetate produced by these trees which is lethal to livestock.

Most native animals have a resistance to this fluoracetate, but introduced species, like the red fox do not, so it has been suggested the red-tailed phascogale's survival in these areas could be attributed to this naturally occurring chemical.

Western ground parrot (Pezoporus flaviventris)

Western-ground-parrot

The Western ground parrot (Pezoporus flaviventris) is one of the world's rarest birds with just 110 individuals remaining.

International Union for Conservation of Nature status: Critically Endangered

THE western ground parrot is one of the rarest bird species in the world. It rapidly declined between 1990 and 2009 from about 400 individuals to 110. The bird is so rare, that the first known photograph of it taken in the wild was in 2004.

The largest population of this very shy parrot is found in the Cape Arid National Park, 120km from Esperance. In recent years, the bird has also been recorded in the Fitzgerald National Park, Nuytsland Nature Reserve and Waychinnicup - Manypeaks area.

Its main threats are introduced predators, such as foxes and feral cats, as well as wildfires. Much of its local vegetation is vulnerable to Phytophthora dieback and it is unclear what impact the loss of certain food items may have had on the species.

The western ground parrot was once common from Perth to Geraldton and along the South Coast east to Israelite Bay, but it had vanished from WA's west coast by 1900.

It is a slender, medium-sized parrot with a long tail and distinctive bright-green plumage similar to the eastern ground parrot, but feathers of the abdomen and under tail-coverts are bright yellow with indistinct black barring.

Fledgling western ground parrots are grey/brown around the head, wing covets and across the back, while the eastern variety has bright green (adult) plumage in these areas.

This difference would provide better camouflagised extinctions throughout its range and was very endangered by the 1970s.

The woylie is a small macropod around 30–35cm high with a coat of yellowish-brown fur, a pale patch on its belly and a dark furry tail. It has larger ears and a more slender build than its relative the burrowing bettong.

It lives mostly in open sclerophyll forest and malee eucalyptus woodlands with a dense low understory of tussock grasses, but once occupied a wide range of habitats, including low arid scrub and desert spinifex grasslands.

The woylie is strictly nocturnal and not particularly gregarious, but it will breed all year round if conditions are favourable. Females begin breeding at six months and give birth every 3.5 months. Its life span in the wild is between four to six years.

It uses its tail, curled around in a prehensile manner, to carry bundles of nesting material and builds dome-shaped homes in shallow scrape under bushes, where it rests during the day and emerges at night to feed.

The woylie has an unusual diet for a mammal. Although it eats bulbs, tubers, seeds, insects and resin from the hakea plant, the bulk of its nutrients are derived from underground fungi which it digs out with its strong fore-claws.

The fungi can only be digested indirectly in a portion of its stomach where it is consumed by bacteria.

The bacteria produce nutrients that are digested in the rest of the stomach and small intestine. When the woylie was widespread and abundant, it is fairly certain it played an important role in the dispersal of fungal spores within desert ecosystems.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, stable populations were established at Venus Bay, Victoria, St Peter Island, SA, Scotia Sanctuary, NSW and Wedge Island and Shark Bay in WA. As a result, the woylie population rose and it was taken off the threatened species list in 1996.

The population expanded with wild-born joeys being recorded and surviving several years of drought in the early 2000s – by 2001, the total population was thought to be around 40,000.

However, later that year there was a sudden population crash and by 2006, most woylie populations had dropped to 10-30 per cent of its pre-2001 numbers. The exact cause of this rapid population crash remains uncertain, although researcher Andrew Thompson has found two parasite infestations in woylie blood.

As of 2011, the global population is estimated to be less than 5 600 individuals and is said to be on the brink of extinction.

e to mobile fledglings in the habitat typical of the south-west arid regions where they reside. In contrast the eastern ground parrot lives in thick vegetation with little open ground.

Molecular DNA evidence suggests the western ground parrot split from ground parrots of eastern Australia around 2 million years ago.

Coastal heathlands with a diverse range of low-growing shrubs are the birds' most common habitat, especially where there are vegetation patches of different ages. The birds usually occur in areas which have remained unburnt for more than 40 years.

However, they have been known to very occasionally venture into areas regenerating two to three years after a fire has moved through, but only if there is older, unburnt vegetation nearby.

Western ground parrots usually feed alone or with one other bird, on or close to the ground, where they eat seeds, flowers, fruits and leaves.

They are rarely seen because they seldom fly or call during daylight and are usually hidden among low vegetation. The birds' call is variable and high-pitched and can be heard for some distance and is answered by neighbouring members of the species. This usually happens at dusk and early morning before sunrise.

Little is known of the birds breeding habits. The last known western ground parrot nest was discovered in 1913 and was described as a slight depression among low prickly vegetation on a low ridge.

Woylie (Bettongia penicillata)

International Union for Conservation of Nature status: Critically Endangered

ALSO known as the brush-tailed bettong, the woylie is an extremely rare small marsupial belonging to the genus Bettongia. There were once two sub-species - Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi and the now extinct Bettongia penicillata penicillata.

The woylie takes its name from the Noongar "walyu" and once inhabited more than 60 per cent of the Australian mainland but now occurs on less than 1 per cent. In the 19th Century, it was known to be common across the south-west of eastern Australia, most of South Australia, the north-west corner of Victoria and the central portion of New South Wales, but by the 1920s was extinct over much of these areas.

Its decline seems to have been caused by a number of factors, including the impact of introduced grazing animals, land clearance for agriculture, predation by introduced red foxes and possibly changed fire regimes. As a result, this species suffered localised extinctions throughout its range and was very endangered by the 1970s.

The woylie is a small macropod around 30–35cm high with a coat of yellowish-brown fur, a pale patch on its belly and a dark furry tail. It has larger ears and a more slender build than its relative the burrowing bettong.

It lives mostly in open sclerophyll forest and malee eucalyptus woodlands with a dense low understory of tussock grasses, but once occupied a wide range of habitats, including low arid scrub and desert spinifex grasslands.

The woylie is strictly nocturnal and not particularly gregarious, but it will breed all year round if conditions are favourable. Females begin breeding at six months and give birth every 3.5 months. Its life span in the wild is between four to six years.

It uses its tail, curled around in a prehensile manner, to carry bundles of nesting material and builds dome-shaped homes in shallow scrape under bushes, where it rests during the day and emerges at night to feed.

The woylie has an unusual diet for a mammal. Although it eats bulbs, tubers, seeds, insects and resin from the hakea plant, the bulk of its nutrients are derived from underground fungi which it digs out with its strong fore-claws. The fungi can only be digested indirectly in a portion of its stomach where it is consumed by bacteria.

The bacteria produce nutrients that are digested in the rest of the stomach and small intestine. When the woylie was widespread and abundant, it is fairly certain it played an important role in the dispersal of fungal spores within desert ecosystems.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, stable populations were established at Venus Bay, Victoria, St Peter Island, SA, Scotia Sanctuary, NSW and Wedge Island and Shark Bay in WA. As a result, the woylie population rose and it was taken off the threatened species list in 1996.

The population expanded with wild-born joeys being recorded and surviving several years of drought in the early 2000s – by 2001, the total population was thought to be around 40,000.

However, later that year there was a sudden population crash and by 2006, most woylie populations had dropped to 10-30 per cent of its pre-2001 numbers. The exact cause of this rapid population crash remains uncertain, although researcher Andrew Thompson has found two parasite infestations in woylie blood.

As of 2011, the global population is estimated to be less than 5,600 individuals and is said to be on the brink of extinction.

Unique Flora

THE whole South Coast NRM region falls within the internationally significant south-west biodiversity hotspot, an area of about 356,717sq km and one of only five Mediterranean-type ecosystems in the world.

Most rainfall occurs during the winter, while the summers are characteristically dry. A broad coastal plain, 20-120km wide, grades into gently undulating uplands, with weathered granite, gneiss and lateritic formations. Further inland, rainfall decreases and the length of the dry season increases.

Native plants are well adapted to the nutrient-poor sandy and lateritic soils, which also support broadacre cropping and sheep grazing. Vegetation in the province comprises forests, woodlands, shrub-lands and heaths but no grasslands.

Principal vegetation types are eucalyptus woodlands and the eucalypt-dominated mallee shrub land. Kwongan, a term adapted from Noongar, covers the many types of WA shrub-land, comparable with the terms maquis, chaparral and fynbos used by other countries with Mediterranean-type systems.

The main structural types of kwongan are thicket, scrub-heath and heath, which together make up about 30 per cent of the native vegetation. Much vegetation is endemic, including some types of eucalyptus-forest and forms of kwongan.

The impressive plant endemism in the south-west is attributed to the millions of years of isolation the State enjoyed from the rest of Australia due to the vast central deserts. Extreme climate shifts and poor soils have also aided the promotion of our region's unique flora.

Almost 80 per cent of the plant species found in our region exist nowhere else on earth, including the many brightly-coloured species of banksia.

Of more than 5,570 species of vascular plants found in the south-west, nearly 2,950, or 53 per cent are endemic. A significant number of genera are also endemic: 87 of 697 genera, or 12.5 per cent, are found nowhere else in the world.

Additionally, four plant families are endemic: Ecdeiocoleaceae, Emblingiaceae, Eremosynaceae and the monotypic Cephalotaceae, represented by the Albany pitcher plant (Cephalotus follicularis), a carnivorous plant which traps insects in its modified leaves.

The hotspot’s 10 largest flora families include the Myrtaceae with 785 species or 92 per cent endemism and the Proteaceae with 684 species or 96 per cent endemism. These two genera comprise 61 per cent of the flora. The number of species per genus averages eight, although the 10 largest genera far exceed this figure.

These include the wattles of the genus Acacia (Mimosaceae, Fabales) possessing 397 species or 51 per cent endemism and the gums of the genus eucalyptus (Myrtaceae) which has 246 species or 52 per cent endemism.

Banksias of the family proteaceae are among the hotspot’s most distinctive flowering plants, producing many different brilliant coloured trees and small prostrate plants - one of which has underground stems. Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos spp., Haemadoraceae) are another brightly coloured flower from the region – the plant’s unopened cluster of flowers resemble the paw of a kangaroo.

Our region’s tree species include three eucalypts - jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), marri (E. calophylla) and karri (E. diversicolor). Mature jarrah and marri trees grow to around 20-30m. Some karri forests have canopies up to 70m, but the occasional 80m tree is not uncommon, making the karri one of the earth’s tallest trees.

Banksia-coccinea

Scarlet or Albany banksia (Banksia coccinea)

BANKSIA coccinea grows as a small shrub or tree and is endemic to the south-west. It can grow up to 8m and is distributed along the coastal fringe from Albany in the west, east to Young River and inland to the Stirling Range National Park.

It prefers deep white or grey sand, amongst tall shrub-land, heath, mallee-heath and low woodland. Most of its range has a float or gently undulating topography, but it also occurs on a steep rocky slope at Ellen Peak in the Stirling Range.

Widely considered to be one of the most attractive banksia species, the scarlet variety is also a popular garden plant and one of the most important banksias for the cut flower industry. However, it is highly sensitive to Phytophthora dieback and succumbs readily when exposed to the pathogen. The plant propagates by seed and takes 12 to 48 days to germinate.

Although all banksias have flowers arranged spirally around the spike’s axis, in some species there is a vertical alignment superimposed on it. In Banksia coccinea, this vertical alignment is strongly accentuated by large gaps between the columns.

Additionally, neighbouring flower columns lean in opposite directions, resulting in bright red vertical columns consisting of many crossing flower styles, alternating with large vertical gaps through which the pale-grey perianths can be seen. The outcome is an elegant vertical red and white striped flower spike.

The first known specimens of B. coccinea were collected in December 1801, during the visit to King George Sound (Albany) of HMS Investigator under the command of Matthew Flinders. On board were botanist Robert Brown, botanical artist Ferdinand Bauer and gardener Peter Good.

All men gathered plant specimens, but those collected by Bauer and Good were incorporated into Brown's herbarium without attribution, so it is not possible to identify the actual collector of this species.

The surviving specimen of B. coccinea at London’s Natural History Museum is annotated in Brown's hand "King George IIIds Sound Princess Royal Harbour especially near the observatory". The observatory was located somewhere in Albany’s present-day CBD. No further information on the collection is available, as the species was not mentioned in Brown’s or Good's diary.

Peter Good also made a separate seed collection, which included B. coccinea. The species was drawn by Bauer, but unfortunately, like most of his original Proteaceae drawings, the original field sketch was destroyed by fire in Hofburg, Austria, in 1945.

A field study conducted around Albany found the honey possum (Tarsipes rostratus) sometimes visit Banksia coccinea, as do the New Holland honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) and white-cheeked honeyeater (P. nigra).

Banksia coccinea has shown some symptoms of toxicity to application of phosphite - used to contain dieback - with some patchy necrosis of leaves. However, the uptake of the compound is somewhat lower compared with other shrubs. Unusually, the symptoms did not appear to be proportional to exposure levels.

Red-flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia)

CORYMBIA ficifolia or the Albany red flowering gum is one of the most commonly planted ornamental trees in the broader eucalyptus family. It is native to a very small area of the South Coast, to the east of Walpole, but is not considered under threat.

In the wild, it grows from 2-10m and prefers infertile, sandy soils but it is readily adaptable to most temperate locations, provided it is not exposed to severe frost or sustained tropical damp. Due to its hardiness, fast growth and low maintenance is the ideal tree for urban landscaping.

Corymbia ficifolia is a close relative of the Western Australian marri or Port Gregory gum (Corymbia calophylla) which is widespread in the south-west.

Although in the wild, the marri can grow much larger than Corymbia ficifolia (up to 50 m tall) the two species can be very difficult to tell apart. It is generally necessary to be aware the trees crossbreed readily and remember that species is an artificial human concept which nature does not always obey.

Corymbia ficifolia is difficult to graft but grows well from seed and usually takes around seven years before it flowers for the first time and 15–20 years to reach something approaching its full size.

Weeping gum (Eucalyptus sepulcralis)

Eucalyptus sepulcralis is a mallee growing from 3-8 metres tall. It is known only at and near the eastern end of the Fitzgerald Range National Park on lateritic sandplains and low hills.

Candy cone isopogon (Isopogon latifolius)

ISOPOGON latifolius, commonly known as the candy cone isopogon, is a small to medium-sized shrub of the Proteaceae family which grows on the rocky slopes and hill summits of the Stirling Range National Park. The species was first formally described by botanist Robert Brown in 1830.

Its name derives from the Greek words isos (equal) and (pogon) beard - a reference to the hairs surrounding the plant’s fruits and the Latin lati (wide) and folium (leaf) referring to the broad foliage.

The plant is not currently listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, but is regarded as rare as it occurs in a relatively small area and is classified as 2RC under the Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (ROTAP) system.

All 35 plants of the genus Isopogon are only found in temperate regions in the southern half of Australia. Most are small to medium sized shrubs having flower clusters arranged in globular heads.

Cranbrook bell (Darwinia meeboldii)

THE Cranbrook bellis endemic to the south-west and a member of the Myrtaceae family.

In the wild, it is only known to grow on the peaty soil slopes of the western part of the Stirling Range National Park. It has an erect and straggly habit and grows from 0.5 to 3m high.  

Qualup Bell (Pimelea physodes)

THE Qualup bell is a member of the Thymelaeaceae family and grows in the sandplains and hillsides of the Fitzgerald Biosphere.

This erect shrub has oval leaves and grows to around 1m tall. Its small flowers occur in clusters at the ends of branches and are enclosed by leafy bracts which produce a large, pendent shaped flower-head similar to some of the Western Australian darwinias, which are not related. The bracts can be yellow, green, red or purple - flowering occurs in winter and spring.

This species has been widely exploited for cut flowers. However, restrictions are now in place to eliminate bush picking and a considerable amount of research has been undertaken into the bell’s cultivation requirements.

Its Latin name derives from the Greek words pimele (soft fat) which refers to the plant’s oily seeds or fleshy cotyledons and physodes (bellows-like), indicating the inflated character of the flower head.

The Qualup bell is not currently listed as threatened under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Acct 1999, but is listed as Category 4 in WA due to its relatively limited distribution and its exploitation for cut flowers. It is also classified as 3RCa under the

Pimelea is a genus of about 80 species, most of which are Australian, although some also occur on islands to the north and in New Zealand. Most are shrubs but some annual species are found in tropical areas. The name "rice flower" has been applied to many members of the genus, a few of which are cultivated to a limited extent.



Conservation Status

THE conservation status of a species indicates whether the group is extant (members of it are still alive) and how likely the group is to become extinct in the near future.

Many factors are taken into account when assessing conservation status. This is not only the number of individuals remaining, but the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding success rates and known threats.

The International Union for Conservation Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the best-known worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system. Species are classified by the list into nine groups set through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution and degree of population and distribution fragmentation.

Also included are species known to have been extinct since 500AD. When discussing the IUCN Red List, the official term "threatened" is a grouping of three categories: Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable.

  • Extinct (EX) – No known individuals remaining.

  • Extinct in the Wild (EW) – Known only to survive in captivity, or as a naturalised population outside its historic range.

  • Critically Endangered (CR) – Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

  • Endangered (EN) – High risk of extinction in the wild.

  • Vulnerable (VU) – High risk of endangerment in the wild.

  • Near Threatened (NT) – Likely to become endangered in the near future.

  • Least Concern (LC) – Lowest risk. Does not qualify for a higher risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

  • Data Deficient (DD) – Not enough data to make an assessment of its risk of extinction.

  • Not Evaluated (NE) – Has not yet been evaluated against the criteria.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Many countries require CITES permits when importing listed plants and animals.

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Opening hours
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Contact details:
Tel: (08) 9845 8537
Fax: (08) 9845 8538
Email:info@southcoastnrm.com.au

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