Southeast Australian Banksia Dune Heaths

Heath dominated by species of Banksia extends all along the southeast coast. They are mainly confined to coastal sand but occasionally extend inland usually adjoining Eucalypus forest. The main species are Banksia marginata, B. robur, B. serratifolia and the endemic B. asplenifolia and B. ericifolia (Proteaceae). Banksia marginata is the only species of Banksia found in Tasmania. Heath dominated by Banksia ericifolia extends from the Richmond River south to central New South Wales. It often forms pure stands up to 3 m tall, but occasionally forms associations with other species such as as Casuarina distyla, Cyathochaeta diandra, Hakea teretifolia, Phebalium squameum and the endemic Banksia spinulosa (Proteaceae) and Callistomon citrinus (Myrtaceae). Bankia asplenifolia heath extends from the northern boundary of New South Wales to the sandstones around Sydney. However, it only dominates in patches that are often separated by stretches of sedge-heath. Other associated shrubs include Banksia serratifolia, Leptospermum flavescens and Strangea linearis. There is usually an under storey of dwarf shrubs such as Boronia falcifolia, Eriostemon lanceolatus, Sprengelia sprengelioides and the endemic Epacris microphylla (Epacridaceae). Herbaceous species may include Leptocarpus tenax, Lepyrodia scariosa and Xanthorrhoea media.

Southeast Australian Rocky Heaths

On exposed coastal headlands Casuarina littoralis and the endemic Banksia asplenifolia (Proteaceae) often dominate. They grow to about 50 cm in height but with emergent patches reaching 2 m. Dodonaea triquetra, Hakea teretifolia, Lambertia formosa, Kunzea capitata, Melaleuca nodosa and Ricinocarpus pinifolius can also form local dominants. Less common shrubs are Acacia suaveolens, Persoonia lanceolata, Philotheca salsolifolia, Phyllanthus thymoides, Pimelea linifolia, Xanthosia pilosa and the endemic Isopogon anemonifolius (Proteaceae). In less expose areas where there is some protection from the wind Casuarina distyla and Jacksonia stackhousii become the two main species. Here there is usually a discontinuous lower shrub layer with species like Cryptandra amara, Lomatia silaifolia and the endemic Epacris pulchella (Epacridaceae). On more inland rocky exposures such as the Triassic sandstone of central New South Wales the heath and scrub communities are extremely varied and many associations can be distinguished. However, the most extensive communities are dominated by Casuarina species such as the endemic Casuarina nana (Casuarinaceae). This species dominates extensive heaths in the Blue Mountains and on the Wingecarrabie Tableland. They rarely exceed about 1 m in height but on deeper soils various taller species may occur such as Hakea dactyloides and the endemic Petrophile fucifolia (Proteaceae). Common herbs include Goodenia bellidifolia, Patersonia sericea and the endemic Sowerbaea juncea (Liliaceae). In some of the wetter areas, shrubs such as Bauera rubioides and the endemic Callistemon linearis, Leptospermum arachnoides (Myrtaceae) and Dracophyllum secundum (Epacridaceae) become more conspicuous. These sandstones also support mosaics of herbaceous vegetation with species such as Dianella coerulea, Lepyrodia scariosa and Ptilanthelium deustum. Shrubs such as Leptospermum squarrosum and a variety of endemic species such as Darwinia fascicularis (Myrtaceae) and Leucopogon microphylla (Epacridaceae) may be sporadically distributed throughout these herbaceous areas.

Southeast Australian Bogs (Mosslands)

These are largely dominated by hummock forming mosses mainly species of Sphagnum, Blindia or Bryum, but with two landforms, valley bog and raised bog, recognized. The former develops under very wet conditions supports mosses and herbs, while the latter may also include shrubs. In Kosciusko, the main valley bog type is characterized by Carex gaudichaudiana and Sphagnum cristatum and both species are strongly indicative of acidic condition. Raised bogs, such as in the Bogong high plains of Victoria or in the Kosciusko area are characterized by Blindia robusta and Sphagnum cristatum, Epacris paludosa and the endemic Epacris breviflora (Epacridaceae). Typical shrubs include Epacris serpyllifolia and endemic species such as Callistemon sieberi (Myrtaceae), Leptospermum arachnoides (Myrtaceae) and Richea continentis (Ericaceae), while common herbs include Deyeuxia gunniana and Restio australis.

Cape York Heath and Scrub

Sometimes referred to as ‘wet desert’ because of the low stature of this vegetation but occurring in a climate where you would normally expect to find rain forest. However, the soils are nutrient poor and have particularly low levels of phosphorus. The vegetation forms a mosaic of open and closed communities. In open areas there are patches of scrub mainly dominated by Banksia dentata and the endemic Melaleuca saligna (Myrtaceae) and Thryptomene oligandra (Myrtaceae). In other areas they comprise a form of closed heath no more than about 2 m tall dominated by Fenzlia obtusa and Leptospermum fabricia, but also including shrubs like Choriceras tricorne, Jacksonia thesioides, Sinoga lysicephala and the endemic Acacia calyculata (Fabaceae), Boronia bowmanii (Rutaceae), Morinda reticulata (Rubiaceae) and Neoroepera banksii (Picrodendraceae). In the herbaceous layer Schoenus sparteus and Xanthorrhoea johnsonii are the most common species, but also noteworthy is the presence of the three insectivorous plants Byblis liniflora, Nepenthes mirabilis and Utricularia chrysantha. Heath and scrub also replaces rain forest on mountains such as Mount Bellenden-Kev and Mount Finnegan. Here the characteristic species include Agapetes meiniana, the endemic Dracophyllum sayeri (Epacridaceae), Leptospermum wooroonooran (Myrtaceae) and Rhododendron lochae (Ericaceae), together with species of Austromyrtus, Balanops, Bubbia, Drimys, Orites and Quintinia. The two members of Ericaceae (Agapetes and Rhododendron) provide affinities with the floras of New Guinea and Asia, while Dracophyllum provides links with southeastern Australia and New Zealand. Banksia dentata is the only species of Banksia to occur in the tropics and extends into New Guinea. 

Queenslandian Heaths of Rocky Outcrops (Glasshouse Mountains)

Heaths can be found in many rocky situations where the soil is too thin to support trees. The Glasshouse Mountains in southeastern Queensland are largely composed of volcanic plugs of trachyte. On the steep slopes a number of herbaceous communities have developed. The most important plant species are the two ferns Cheilanthes tenuifolia and Culcita dubia, and two endemic angiosperms Borya septentrionalis (Boryaceae) and Micraira subulifolia (Poaceae). Shrubs, particularly Calytrix tetragona and Leptospermum brackyandrum, become establised in the herbaceous patches, while other common species include Acacia pravissima, Jacksonia scoparia and the endemic Keraudrenia lanceolata (Malvaceae).


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