Interim Recovery Plan No. 190
Rachel Meissner, Gillian Stack and Alanna Chant
Department of Conservation and Land Management
Western Australian Threatened Species and Communities Unit WA, January 2005
About the plan
This taxon was first described in 1878 by George Bentham from material collected from Champion Bay, now a part of Geraldton. It was thought extinct until 1975 when Dr. Terry Macfarlane and Dr. Steve Hopper, rediscovered the taxon at Depot Hill, a shire reserve north west of Mingenew. Surveys since then have located an additional 14 populations, ranging from Geraldton to south of Mingenew, within a 100 km range.
Wurmbea tubulosa is a small dioecious plant 1-3 cm tall, with an ellipsoid corm to 2.5 cm long. It has three leaves, and the lower two are basal and similar in length and width without a distinct section of stem between the bases. The leaves are very broad, 3-22 mm wide, lanceolate in shape, and held flat to the ground. The upper leaf is smaller and erect, emerging from the two lower leaves or attached to the stem just above them. The male and female flowers are borne on separate plants, with up to 16 flowers in the inflorescence. The male flowers are in an open inflorescence that is taller than the uppermost leaf, whereas the female flowers are in a dense inflorescence which is almost concealed between the two basal leaves at ground level. The perianth is 6-7 mm long in male flowers, 9-12 mm in female flowers, white to pale pink in colour and joined at the base into a long tubular section for about half the perianth length. The upper section of the perianth is divided into six equal lobes, each having a single nectary, which is a narrow, curved, mauve-pink band situated a third to a half the distance from the base of the lobe and slightly raised. There are six stamens in the male flowers and a superior ovary with three styles in the female flowers. The fruit is a capsule that is smooth brown and spherical (description adapted from Patrick 2001).
This species differs from all other Western Australian species of Wurmbea in that the perianth is tubular for up to half of its length. Wurmbea drummondii is a related species but differs in that the perianth is united into a tube for up to a quarter of its length. It also differs in the smaller flowers, which are fewer in each flower head.