The Case of the Disappearing Grevillea
Commonly known as McCutcheon's Grevillea, Grevillea maccutcheonii is an attractive shrub that grows to 2m tall and produces large, handsome red flowers between May and December. The shrub has highly distinctive leaves that are flattened, three-lobed and encircle the stem. Unfortunately, this beautiful shrub is one of Australia's most endangered plants.
McCutcheon's Grevillea is part of the ironstone shrubland community that occurs on the southern Swan Coastal Plain near Busselton, Western Australia. This entire community is listed as a nationally endangered ecological community. The community is confined to shallow, red-brown clays over ironstone that are frequently waterlogged in winter. The only known population of McCutcheon's Grevillea comprises about 12 individual plants, three mature and nine seedlings. Despite intensive surveying, no other populations have been found.
The single known population of McCutcheon's Grevillea occurs on a Shire road reserve growing on a mound of soil probably associated with early road construction works. Threats include: vulnerability of extremely localised population; possible introduction of dieback disease associated with Phytophthora infection; inappropriate fire regime; degraded habitat; poor survival of seedlings; the deaths of some adult plants; weed invasion; and accidental damage during roadworks. The three remaining adult plants serve to emphasise the extreme vulnerability of the species.
McCutcheon's Grevillea was ranked as Critically Endangered in WA in 1995 and a Recovery Team established to address the most threatening processes affecting its survival in the wild. Essential recovery actions that have been implemented to protect the species include: the control of introduced weeds; the development of a fire protection plan; the maintenance of dieback hygiene; the erection of signs marking the site of the population and the regular monitoring of the health of the population.
Other recovery actions which are progressively being implemented include: the collection of seed, the maintenance of live plants away from the wild; further surveys to find other populations or suitable habitats; research into the plants' biology and the removal of threatening weeds.
McCutcheon's Grevillea is currently known from only one site and WA's Department of Conservation and Land Management are keen to hear of any others on (08) 9752 1677.
You can help by:
- protecting remnant bush in your community or on your land to help provide habitat for all our native species, including the McCutcheon's Grevillea;
- supporting local efforts to conserve threatened species in your area by joining a local organisation such as a Landcare or catchment groups, natural history or a 'friends of' group or by volunteering for Green Corps or the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers;
- participating in special events, information nights, tree planting days and weed eradication programs.
To find out more about saving your state's threatened species check out the Threatened Species Network at WWF-Australia or call the Network's National Office on (02) 9281 5515.
You can also find out more information about Australia's threatened species by calling the Department of the Environment and Heritage's Community Information Unit on free call 1800 803 772