Queenslandian Upland Heaths of the 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).

Southeast Australian Fjellfields (Feldmark)

Terms like fjell or feldmark are usually used to describe open sub glacial communities of dwarf flowering plants, mosses and lichens typically dominated by dwarf prostrate plants with a cushion or mat habit. Precipitation in these areas is usually high. However, this is not reflected in the plants since most of the water falls as snow and this is often blown away in the more exposed areas, while most water from melting snow or rain is shed as surface runoff or drains through the fragmented substratum. On the Kosciusko plateau the dominant species include Chionohebe densifolia, Epacris petrophila and the endemic Colobanthus nivicola (Caryophyllaceae), Epacris microphylla (Epacridaceae) and Veronica densiflora (Scrophulariaceae). However, a series of communities can be distinguished in relation to decreasing exposure. In the most exposed situations, non-vascular plants dominate particularly lichens, but with decreasing severity the vegetation ranges from scattered vascular plants to so-called cushion mosaics. Among the vascular plants other characteristic species include Ewartia nubigena, Helipterum albicans, Luzula oldfieldii. Erythranthera pumila, Coprosma pumila and a variety of endemic taxa such as Euphrasia collina subsp. lapidosa (Orobanchaceae), Ranunculus anemoneus and R. muelleri (Ranunculaceae). On some sites there is upwind erosion and downwind regeneration of these vegetative clumps resulting in a slow migration in the direction of the prevailing wind with rates of movement up to 1 cm per year in some cases.

Southeast Australian Alpine Herbfields

Herb fields, which often have striking colour and variety, are the climatic climax over a wide range of mountain geologies including basalt, granite, sandstone and slate, but the influence of the underlying geology on species composition can be relatively low. In the Kosciusko, they can be broadly divided into short and tall herbfields. Some of the most specialists of the short herb alliances include Neopaxia australasica, Plantago glacialis and the endemic Caltha introloba (Ranunulaceae), together with various other dwarf, mat-forming and creeping species. They mostly occur in areas of semi-permanent snow patches. During the short snow-free season snowmelt water occurs in abundance and is relatively rich in nutrients due to dust settling on snow and from the underlying eroded rock debris. Other endemic species characteristic of these short herb fields include Abrotanella nivigena (Asteraceae), Brachycome stolonifera (Asteraceae), Dichosciadium ranunculaceum (Apiaceae), Erigeron setosus (Asteraceae), Luzula acutifolia subsp. nana (Juncaceae), Oreomyrrhis pulvinifica (Apiaceae), Parantennaria uniceps (Asteraceae) and Ranunculus niphophilus (Ranunculaceae).  Tall herb fields are more typical of areas where there is no persistent snow cover or exposure to strong winds. The most important formation is characterized by species of Celmisia, such as the endemic Celmisia longifolia (Asteraceae), but other important taxa include Euphrasia collina subsp. diversicolor, Helipterum albicans and the endemic Aciphylla glacialis (Apiaceae), Chionochloa frigida (Poaceae) and Ranunculus anemoneus (Ranunculaceae).


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