Hope for granite Zieria

Threatened species experts have renewed hope for an endangered shrub after surveys in late 2020 found plants had increased by 2000% from a year earlier.

Zieria obcordata flowers

Darren Shelly, a Senior Threatened Species Officer who works in the Saving Our Species program, said Zieria obcordata was severely impacted by the drought, prompting fears for the plant's survival.

"Zieria obcordata is currently found in only 2 small populations near Wellington and Bathurst.

"At one stage, we were down to just 200 plants left in the wild so this once in a lifetime seedling event really has thrown a lifeline to this species," Mr Shelly said.

Threatened species officers discovered an astounding number of new plants when undertaking spring surveys across the 14 known sites for the species (3 in Wellington and 11 in Bathurst). Along with 177 surviving plants, they couldn’t believe it when they counted 12,139 new seedlings.

With such a large regeneration event in 2020, Mr Shelly is confident the population will rebound.

“Due to the good rainfall season we experienced from March 2020, when the drought broke, the survival rate of these seedlings is observed to be over 90%.”

The Saving our Species program is now implementing other actions to continue the conservation of Zieria obcordata. Recent work has included collecting seed, and delivering it to the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan for ex-situ conservation. Seedlings have been collected and sent to the Australian National Herbarium Canberra, for growing out for return to the wild at Wellington. Other seedlings were collected for the Orange Botanic Gardens and Burrendong Arboretum near Wellingon, to establish an ex-situ population where they can be managed through future climatic events and provide future translocation material.

Other actions planned include the installation of fencing to protect the remaining plants from grazing by wallabies and goats and development of a translocation plan.

The local community have been instrumental in the conservation of this Zieria, through reporting new sightings on private property and by aiding with survey effort. Landholders are still encouraged to keep a look out for Zieria obcordata on private property between Bathurst and Wellington, and to report sightings of the species to savingourspecies@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Zieria obcordata is a small shrub, typically 10–40cm high and can be identified by its dark green leaves composed of 3 wedge-shaped leaflets and its flowers, complete with 4 very small pale pink petals that fade rapidly to white. It grows on rocky hillsides or crevices between granite boulders.

Learn more about Zieria obcordata.