Plant-hunting on the Central Highlands – Part I

It was the 16th of December 2008 and I had the fortune to go on a trip with Micah Visiou, seed collecting officer for the Millenium Seed bank project in Tasmania, up to the Central Highlands to look for some threatened plants.

The weather was not to inviting but since we had spent over 4 hours driving to our destination, it would be unforgivable to pass up the opportunity for a ramble.

Our first stop was the Iris River on the Middlesex Plains. We were greeted by magnificent mats of Tasmanian mudleaf (Gunnera cordifolia) by the river the moment we stepped out of the car. Should have taken a shot.

The habitat (pic above) was very open subalpine woodland of stately cider gums (Eucalyptus gunnii) and heathy shrubs like Coral heath (Epacris gunnii) and Rigid Candleheath (Richea sprengelioides).

Our mission on Middlesex Plains was to look for an endangered plant called the Alpine appleberry (Rhytidosporum inconspicuum) (See the DPIW website listing statement).

Rhytidosporum inconspicuum belongs to the Pittosporum family (Pittosporaceae), making it a relative of the widely planted exotic Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum bicolor).

True to its namesake (inconspicuum), the plant is a very low prostrate shrub that is onerous to spot in the absence of fruits or flowers. Even with flowers it was hard to spot but we were fortunate to spot two individuals (See pics below).

Based on a reliable information source, there were supposely over a 100 more individuals where we were but time did not permit us to look for more. We had to move on to our next stop, the Vale of Belvoir, to look for yet another threatened plant.

About David Tng

I am David Tng, a hedonistic botanizer who pursues plants with a fervour. I chase the opportunity to delve into various aspects of the study of plants. I have spent untold hours staring at mosses and allied plants, taking picture of pollen, culturing orchids in clean cabinets, counting tree rings, monitoring plant flowering times, etc. I am currently engrossed in the study of plant ecology (a grand excuse to see 'anything I can). Sometimes I think of myself as a shadow taxonomist, a sentimental ecologist, and a spiritual environmentalist - but at the very root of it all, a "plant whisperer"!
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