Cliffhanging 5: Euphrasia bowdeniae

In this video, Blue Mountains National Park ranger Arthur Henry tells the story of a tiny, easily-missed plant that is thought to have only 60 individuals occurring on cliff faces between Wentworth Falls and Katoomba. Its main threat are its own beautiful purple flowers that may attract the wrong sort of attention.

Euphrasia bowdeniae

Rock faces in the Blue Mountains receive valuable moisture which helps support a range of plants, including a tiny plant called Euphrasia bowdeniae. The genus Euphrasia is also called 'eyebright' due to the traditional use (going back to the Middle Ages) of a related plant in Europe for treating eye infections.

This vulnerable species grows halfway up the cliffs on vertical sandstone rock faces in the upper Blue Mountains. Although it is small and usually easily missed, it becomes a surprisingly prominent and beautiful bundle of purple flowers from September to December.

Only 60 individuals of this species are known to occur between Wentworth Falls and Katoomba making it the rarest of the Cliffhanging 5. Scientists are concerned that bushwalkers passing by may pick the flowers and cause it to become extinct.

See Saving our Species videos for 4 more very special cliff-dwelling plants of the same area.