Southeast Australian Strandline

In the temperate zones of Australia there are virtually no native species able fill this niche. Here the introduced Cakile edentula (from America) is the main annual species. Further south Cakile maritima and Salsola kali (introduced from Europe) are the main strandline annuals. One of the few native annual found in this zone is Euphorbia sparrmanii.  The perennial species also largely introduced such as Arctotheca populifolia (from South Africa), but small quantities of the native Atriplex cinerea may be present.

Southeast Australian Embryonic Dunes

These are relatively stable due to moderate wind velocities and the long growing season. The main sand binding species is Spinifex hirsutus. However, it only has moderate sand binding capabilities compared with Europe’s Ammophila arenaria, which is planted in southern parts of the area. The native Festuca littoralis is also characteristic of southern embryonic dunes especially where the sand is calcareous. Where there is some nutrient enrichment Calystegia soldanella, Senecio spathulatus and Sonchus megalocarpus occur. Interestingly Calystegia soldanella is native here and therefore has a distribution that covers temperate coastlines in both hemispheres.

Southeast Australian Foredunes

The main species here is the creeping shrub Acacia sophorae which can help to create foredune ridges up to 6 m high. Other species may include Clematis glycinoides, Hibbertia scandens and Stephania japonica. Immediately behind the Acacia zones is a zone dominated by the shrub Leptosperma laevigatum. This zone is more typically colonised by herbaceous species in temperate climates.

Southeast Australian Open Dune Grasslands

These are not common possibly due to the fact that calcareous sand is uncommon. Typical grasses include Danthonia setacea and Themeda australis. In the more bare but stable areas species such as Crassula sieberana, Polycarpon tetraphyllum and the mosses Ceratodon purpureus and Tortella calycina are characteristic. This vegetation appears to be analagous to the communities of Tortula ruraliformis in Western Europe.

Southeast Australian Succulent Dune Mats

On young, unstable dunes there are ‘succulent mats’ composed of species such as Carpobrotus aequilateris, Pelargonium australis, Scaevola calendulacea the endemic or near endemic parasitic vines Cassytha glabella and C. melantha and the Australian endemic Lomandra longifolia (Xanthorrhoeaceae). Succulent mats on dunes seem to be a well know feature in the southern hemisphere.

Southeast Australian Banksia Dune Heath

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 Pioneer Dune Woodland

Evergreen pioneer woodland reaching heights of up to 10 m occurs in a relatively narrow zone. The main species is the Australian endemic Banksia integrifolia (Proteaceae) typically accompanied by the salt tolerant tree Casuarina glauca. Other species include the Australian endemic shrub Monotoca elliptica (Epacridaceae) and the herbaceous Geitonoplesium cymosum.

Southwest Australian Coastal Sand Dune Communities

In the mobile dunes exposed to salt-laden winds, the main species include various dune grasses such as Spinifex longifolius and S. hirsutus, together with a variety of cosmopolitan species like Cakile maritima.  In the more stable zones further inland a form of low heath occurs composed of species such as Acanthocarpus preissii, and the endemic Acacia pullchella (Fabaceae), Calectasia cyanea (Xanthorrhoeaceae) and Hibbertia hypericoides (Dilleniaceae). Other endemics associated with dunes include the shrubs Diplolaena dampieri  (Rutaceae) and Rhagodia radiata (Chenopodiaceae). Banksias (Proteaceae) are also a feature of the coastal dunes in the south, particularly between Hopetoun and Israelite Bay. Here showy species such as Banksia speciosa, B. nutans and the endemic B. baxteri and B coccinea occur.  Deeper coastal sand provides habitat for members of the endemic genera Anigozanthos and Conostylis including Anigozanthos rufus and the attractive Conostylis bealiana, C. petrophiloides and C. vaginata.

Southwest Australian Bush of Southern Coastal Sand Plains

This region includes the undulating plains along the south coast from Pallinup River to Israelite Bay and extends inland to Lake Grace. Two of the more prominent shrubs of these southern bush lands are Hakea crassifolia and the endemic Lambertia inervis (Proteaceae). The latter represents a near endemic genus with all but one species endemic to the southwest. Another widespread endemic shrub found here is the unusual Franklandia fucifolia (Proteaceae), while other important shrubby species are the so-called bottlebrushes Beaufortia micrantha, B. orbifolia and B. schaueri, and the wax flowers Chamelaucium axillare and C. megalopetalum (Mrytaceae).  Both genera are endemic to the southwest, with some 15 species of Chamelaucium. Among the endemic herbs are species of the endemic genus Anthotium (Goodeniaceae) including Anthotium humile and A. rubiflorum. Both have perennial rootstocks and rosetted linear leaves.

Southwest Australian Bush of Northern Coastal Sand Plains

These sandy plains occur north of Perth between Moore River and Shark Bay. Like their southern counterpart two of the most prominent families are Proteaceae and Myrtaceae. In the former there are at least 20 species of Banksia including the endemic B. burdettii and many species of the endemic Dryandra such as D. nana, D. carlinoides, D. kippistiana, D. shuttleworthiana and D. speciosa. Most dryandras and banksias produce abundant nectar and although birds and insects are attracted to this, it seems that small marsupials are the main pollinators. Other conspicuous members of the Proteaceae include the grevilleas, such as the spectacular white plume grevellea (Grevillea leucopteris) and the endemic smokebush Conospermum stoechadis.  Of the Myrtaceae, the intriguing genus Darwinia, with its great diversity of inflorescences, is well represented with some 30 species endemic to the southwest. Two of the more common of these are Darwinia neildiana and D. speciosa.  Other indigenous members of this family include various species of the genus Calothamnus.   All 25 species of this genus are endemic to the southwest but only about 10 occur on the northern sand plains including Calothamnus blepharospermus, C. homalophyllus and C. quadrifidus.  Also present are many poisonous plants of the endemic genus Gastrolobium, such as Gastrolobium oxylobioides, which have caused problems for pastoralists since the early days of settlement.  Flowers of many colours are seen in the family Goodeniaceae and even in the genus Lechenaultia with about 25 species, flowers may be blue, white, yellow, red, orange or green. One of the more common of these is the endemic blue lechenaultia (Lechenaultia biloba).  In areas of deep sand are various members of the enigmatic, endemic genus Anigozanthos, including Anigozanthos manglesii and A. pulcherrimus (Haemodoraceae), while other endemic members of this family are the so-called cotton-heads such as Conostylis aurea, C. candicans and C. stylidioides.  Other endemic genera that are well represented in this area are Beaufortia, Hypocalymma and Scholtzia. Apart from Xanthorrhoea preissii, moncots are not a dominant feature of these sand plains, but the allied Kingia australis is found in a few areas. Orchids are also rarely found but members of the genera Caladenia, Diuris and Thelymitra may be encountered including the endemic Caladenia crebar and C. flava (Orchidaceae).  Finally several species of native conifer grow in the area include the endemic sand plain cypress (Actinostrobus arenarius) and its smaller relative the endemic dwarf cypress (Actinostrobus acuminatus).

Fraser Island Coastal Sand Dunes

Located on the southern coast of Queensland, Fraser Island represents the largest sand island in the world, and in addition to the typical sand dune vegetation, the more stable areas support rainforest, eucalyptus forest, mangrove forests, wallum (a type of Australian shrubland), peat swamps and coastal heaths.

The open dunes supported the following vegetation types:

Pioneer Zone
Here the common pioneer species included Canavalia obtusifolia, Carpobrotus glaucescens, Ipomoea pes-caprae, Ischaemum triticeum, Scaevola calendulacea and Spinifex hirsutus. These were followed by a semi-stable zone comprising Eragrostis interrupta, Scirpus nodosus, Stackhousia spathulata and Zoysia macrantha.

Mobile Dunes
On parts of the island there are (or were) stretches of rounded, mobile dunes supporting sparse patches of the sand binding succulent Sesuvium portulacastrum.

Semi-Stable Dunes
Where a degree of stability has developed trees of Casuarina equisetifolia become established together with various species of Pandanus but the blow-outs are mainly colonised by Scirpus nodosus. Other species included Oenothera drummondii.

Stable Dunes
Further from the shore where the dunes can reach heights of up to 30 m a much more varied vegetation occurs. Here stunted bushes and trees dominate the vegetation with common species including Alphitonia excelsa, Austromyrtus dulcis, Canthium coprosmoides and Persoonia virgata.

Freshwater Seepage Zones
In the pools and wet sand between the foredunes an interesting vegetation comprising Casuarina equisetifolia (coast she oak) together with various sedges and grasses such as Carex pumila, Cladium junceum, Cyperus laevigatus, Cyperus polystachyos, Eleocharis equsetina, Ischaemum triticeum, Paspalum orbiculare, Schoenus nitens, Scirpus nodosus and Triglochin striata have developed. The attractive Hibiscus diversifolius occurs here scrambling over the vegetation. Growing in the pools the ‘water lilies’ Nymphaea capensis and Villarsia reniformis occurred and in the damp patches surrounding the pools small plants of Bacopa monniera were abundant. 

In more established areas the following vegetation types have been described:

Dune Heathlands
These attractive heaths produce prodigious displays of colourful flowers with shrubs like Phebalium woombye and Ricinocarpus pinifolius producing clouds of flowers in August and September. Other species include Acacia ulicifolia, Boronia falcifolia, Boronia rosmarinifolia, Daviesia latifolia, Epacris pulchella, Gompholobium latifolium, Hovea longifolia, Jacksonia scoparia, Patersonia servicea, Persoonia virgata, Pultenaea villosa and Sowerbea juncea.

Lophostemon confertus - Syncarpia hillii Vine Forest.
Interior zones support so-called vine forests dominated by Lophostemon confertus and Syncarpia hillii.  The latter species (Syncarpia hillii) is virtually endemic to Fraser Island and the nearby Cooloola Sandmass. It is of considerable interest in being a very primitive member of the Myrtaceae family which many species including the eucalypts are thought to have evolved.  Other trees include Agathis robusta and Araucauria cunninghamii, while in the under storey typical ‘scrub’ trees include Archontophoenix cunninghamiana and Backhousia myrtifolia. Another interesting feature is the presence of Angiopteris evecta (king fern). This ancient tree fern once had global distribution and has a fossil record in coal seams dating back over 350 million years.

Eucalyptus pilularis (blackbutt) Forest
Usually found surrounding the vine scrub these forests support several important timber trees including the valuable Eucalyptus microcorys (tallowwoods). These have provided more than half the timber harvested from Fraser Island.

Eucalyptus racemosa (scribbly gum) Forest
These non-commercial but attractive forests occur on the edges of blackbutt forest in better drained areas.  Other species include Angophora leiocarpa, Eucalyptus tereticornis and Eucalyptus paniculata. One of the more common under-storey shrubs is Monotoca scoparia. Also covering much of the forest is the parasitic air vines (Cassytha spp.).


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