Rare native plant discovered post-fires
A native plant rarely seen before has risen from the ashes following the summer bushfires.
Eurobodalla Council’s environment team has been monitoring 14 sites across the shire to record the recovery of vegetation and monitor weeds.
Consultant botanist Jackie Miles said the returning vegetation was a mixture of post-disturbance colonisers, which disappear once normal vegetation returns, and plants that formerly occupied the sites.
“Many Australian plants have evolved to cope with fire, recovering by re-sprouting or growing from seed,” she said.
“A rare native, Hibiscus richardsonii, was discovered on a burnt headland at Malua Bay, which was totally unexpected. I didn’t even know this species existed until I started to identify the specimen I brought back – it was definitely exciting.
“There have been only four records from the far south coast so it’s not common that’s for sure.”
Ms Miles also expects to see more of fellow post-disturbance coloniser fan-flower (Scaevola aemula), come spring.
“It’s found on the headlands at Rosedale and Malua Bay and in the spring we expect to see bright purple, blue and mauve fan-flowers across the headlands,” she said.
The 14 monitoring sites were set up in February to help Council understand how the local vegetation recovers after bushfire and ultimately assist in its management. In addition to identifying plant species, a photo is taken from a fixed point at each showing the visual change over time.
Ms Miles said the good news was that vegetation was bouncing back, depending on whether the main species in an area were re-sprouters or seed germinators.
“The site behind Broulee Primary School is a good example of re-sprouters, where the main understorey was burrawangs and bracken, which bounce back really fast,” she said.
“The species on the headlands at Rosedale and Malua Bay however are coming back from seed, so it’s a little slower to respond.”
Weeds are also taking the opportunity to colonise the burnt ground.
“Sites that were weedy pre-fire remain weedy. The most common weedy species on the sites are exotic Solanum (Nightshade) species and Inkweed,” Ms Miles said.
“If people want to do some weeding they need to check before they start pulling things out. Make absolutely sure they are weeds.”
More information about weeds is on Council’s website www.esc.nsw.gov.au and search ‘south coast weeds’ or check out Council’s informative video showing local weeds
Alternatively contact Council’s environment team on 4474 1000 or email@example.com
Above: A rare native plant that colonises after fire, Hibiscus richardsonii, has been discovered on a burnt headland at Malua Bay.