News from the Field

New and rare plant species described on Queensland sanctuary

08 Jun. 2023
Wayne Lawler/AWC

Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary officially has a new flora species to add to the list. First collected on the sanctuary in 1999, the rare plant has been named Hibbertia advena, with the proposed common name Taravale guinea-flower.

The bright yellow flower of the newly described Hibbertia advena. Rigel Jensen/AWC
The bright yellow flower of the newly described Hibbertia advena.

Curious cross-country connection

Hibbertia is a large genus with more than 150 species, most of which are endemic to Australia. The remainder are found in Indo-pacific islands such as Madagascar, Fiji and New Guinea. Most species are found in temperate areas, with a few being found in arid or mountainous environments.

Like most guinea flowers Hibbertia advena produces vivid yellow flowers, with five petals that are soft to the touch. However, Hibbertia advena is remarkable in that it is morphologically very different from any other northern or eastern Australian Hibbertia species.

Instead, the species is most similar to the informally named H.exasperata (Steud.) Briq. group – which has been recognised for many years in south-west Western Australia and is characterised by very pungent, tough leaves that are small and narrow with single flowers on stems.

Given its wide disjunction, H.advena is unlikely to be closely allied to any of the Western Australian species in the H.exasperata species group, and while it does share characteristics from both groups, it appears to not fit completely into either – making the specific epithet more poignant. In Latin, ‘advena’ means outside, foreigner or stranger.

Map of occurrences of Hibbertia advena (triangles) and Western Australia species in the H.exasperata species group (circles).
Map of occurrences of Hibbertia advena (triangles) and Western Australia species in the H.exasperata species group (circles).

What is AWC doing?

Hibbertia advena is known from several locations in the Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary. The species is not currently conservation-listed and research is ongoing.

On sanctuary, AWC implements a weed management strategy focused on species with a significant environmental impact. Weeds such as lantana, gamba grass, thatch grass and grader grass are treated with a combination of herbicides and carefully controlled burning.

Further reading: Hammer TA, Toelken HR & Thiele KR (2022). Hibbertia advena (Dilleniaceae), a new and rare species from Queensland with transcontinental affinities. Australian Journal of Taxonomy 9: 1–5.

 

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Wayne Lawler/AWC
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