Alpine Heaths

Vegetation class map


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Key:
<1%
1-10%
10-50%
>50%
Estimated percentage landcover for vegetation class

Structure

Heath dominated by a dense to open layer of sclerophyllous shrubs 20 cm to 1 m tall, with scattered emergent eucalypts at lower elevations. A discontinuous ground cover of tussock grasses and decumbent herbs grows beneath the shrubs.

Trees

Typically none, but there may be scattered individuals of Eucalyptus debeuzevillei (snow gum) or E. niphophila (snow gum) below 1800 m elevation.

Shrubs

Bossiaea foliosa, Epacris microphylla (coral heath), Grevillea australis (alpine grevillea), Hovea montana, Nematolepis ovatifolium, Olearia phlogopappa, Orites lancifolia (alpine orites), Oxylobium ellipticum (common shaggy pea), Ozothamnus alpinus (alpine everlasting), O. secundiflorus (cascade everlasting), Podocarpus lawrencei (mountain plum pine), Podolobium alpestre (alpine shaggy pea), Prostanthera cuneata (alpine mint- bush), Tasmannia xerophila (alpine pepper). In the most exposed situations Kunzea muelleri (yellow kunzea) occurs, as does Epacris glacialis on damp soils.

Forbs

Acaena nova-zelandiae, Asperula gunnii (mountain woodruff), Celmisia sp. C (silver snow daisy), Gonocarpus montanus, Stellaria pungens (prickly starwort), Chionochloa frigida (robust wallaby grass), Hierochloe submutica, Poa ensiformis and P. hiemata (soft snowgrass). On damp soils Poa costiniana is common.

Habitat

Exposed rocky sites on shallow soils derived from granites, slates, quartzites, phyllites and schists. Common between 1800 and 2200 m elevation, although they may grow as low as 1500 m in the north.

Distribution

Restricted to exposed rocky sites, primarily around the edge of Koscuisko plateau, but smaller patches are scattered elsewhere on the plateau and north to the Scabby and Brindabella ranges. Also in the Victorian alps.

Notes

A distinctive and restricted group of assemblages sharing floristic affinties with subalpine woodlands and alpine herbfields and fjaeldmarks. Species composition varies with exposure and drainage. Although structurally similar to some montane heaths, the Alpine Heaths have stronger floristic and ecological relationships with the other vegetation classes in the alpine complex.

Sources

Costin (1954); Wimbush & Costin (1973); Thomas et al. (2000)

See all threatened species associated with this vegetation class

See a list of species, populations and ecological communities associated with the Alpine Heaths vegetation class.