Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Spyridium obcordatum (creeping dustymiller): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2013a) [State Action Plan].
TAS:Threatened Species Listing Statement - Creeping spyridium, Spyridium obcordatum (Threatened Species Unit (TSU), 2003b) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
Scientific name Spyridium obcordatum [17447]
Family Rhamnaceae:Rhamnales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author (J.D.Hook.) W.M.Curtis
Infraspecies author  
Reference The Victorian Naturalist 87 (Sep. 1970) 251.
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Spyridium obcordatum.

Common name:
Creeping Dusty Miller.

The Creeping Dusty Miller is a small, prostrate shrub with a thickening at the base of the main stem from which numerous slender, wiry branches arise. Branches are up to 40 cm long, brittle and wiry, with chestnut coloured wood and habitually spread along the ground over embankments or between rocks. The leaves are up to 10 mm in length, are indented at the tip (obcordate) and have an indented mid-rib and recurved margin. The upper leaf surface is bright green and glossy and the lower surface is white with a covering of short hairs. The flowers are small and white, about 3 mm wide, and are organised in tight clusters that are surrounded by brown bracts and floral leaves (leaves that look like petals). The seeds are hard, light brown and 1.0–1.5 mm in size (Barker & Johnson 1998; Coates 1991b; Coates et al 1999; TSU 2003b).

The Creeping Dusty Miller is endemic to Tasmania, is found in the north of the state on hills to the east of the Dazzler Range near Beaconsfield and in coastal areas from Greens Beach to Hawley Beach at Port Sorell (Barker & Johnson 1998; Coates 1991a, 1991b; TSU 2003b). It is most abundant in highly disturbed woodland and open forest over serpentine geology in the Dans Hill and Andersons Creek area (TSS 2011). A historic record exists for York Town, but the populations could not be relocated in 1989/1990 (Coates 1991b).

The extent of occurrence of the Creeping Dusty Miller is approximately 220 km² (TSS 2011). The species is restricted to an area of occupancy of approximately 20 hectares (TSS 2011; TSU 2003b).

Targeted surveys were conducted for the Creeping Dusty Miller in 2005, focusing in particular on Land for Wildlife properties within the species’ known range, resulting in an increase in the extent of subpopulations at Wentworth Hill and Hawley Beach. Of the 31 landowners contacted, 28 made their properties available for survey.

Ten populations with a total number of plants estimated at 56 000 mature individuals, are known (TSS 2011):

Population Site and tenure Number of plants Year
North of Scotts Hill near Beaconsfield Anderson Creek Forest Reserve 22 700 1996
Anderson Creek Forest Reserve/State Forest 3600 1996
Dans Hill Area Dans Hill, Dans Hill Conservation Area 22 000 1996
Settlers Hills, Dans Hill Conservation Area unknown 1985
Slopes north of Barnes Hill Dans Hill Conservation Area 3 1996
Dans Hill Conservation Area 3300 1996
Private land  Unknown 1991
East of Ironstone Hills Dans Hill Conservation Area  Unknown 1996
North of Holwell Gorge Private land  Unknown 1995
Wentworth Hill, Greens Beach Private land 1000 1996
Private land 600 2005
Sea Hill, Greens Beach Private land  Unknown 1990
West of Kelso Bay Private land <10 2004
Little Badger Head Narawntapu National Park (previously Asbestos Range National Park) 4 1990
0 2002
Hawley Beach, Port Sorrell Hawk Trap Hill (public open space) 1970 1996
200 2002
Hawk Trap Hill (private land) 100–200 2002
Hawk Trap Hill (private land) 540 2005
Tip Toe Hill, Hawley Nature Reserve 200–250 2008

The Creeping Dusty Miller is reserved within the Dans Hill Conservation Area, Andersons Creek Forest Reserve, Hawley Nature Reserve and Narawntapu National Park (may be extinct) (TSS 2011).

The Creeping Dusty Miller occurs primarily in inland areas amongst outcrops of serpentine geology in dry, open forest or woodland dominated by Black Peppermint (Eucalyptus amygdalina) (TSS 2011). The species is absent from adjacent non-serpentine geology at Dans Hill, although this may be the result of site history (Coates 1991a). In near-coastal areas, the species is found in Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) coastal woodland and low, open heathland dominated by Allocasuarina monilifera and Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) (TSS 2011). The substrate in near-coastal areas may be sandstone or dolerite.

The species is found in vegetation communities with and open structure, typically also associated with outcropping rocks, exposed rock plates or rocky ground, and is most abundant in disturbed microhabitats. As a result of browsing, plants tend to be restricted to sites afforded some protection by other vegetation or fallen branches (TSS 2011). The species occurs in areas of 800 mm rainfall (Coates 1991b) at altitudes less than 180 metres above sea level (TSS 2011).

Coates (1991b) provides detailed site descriptions for some populations. It is unknown whether these descriptions are relevant to specific microsites or the population's generally.

The Dans Hill populations occur on serpentine geology with reddish-brown to brown earths. The ground is rocky, heavily grazed by the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and native marsupials. The associated vegetation community includes: Black Peppermint (Eucalytpus amygdalina), Manna Gum (E. viminalis) and Swamp Gum (E. ovata) woodland or open forest, with an understorey of Black Sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis). The understorey is predominantly Pimelea nivea, Pretty Heath (Epacris virgata), Common Correa (Correa reflexa) and Gahnia grandis. The dominant ground layer species are Rosy Baeckea (Baeckea ramosissima) and Spiny-headed Mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia). This population has experienced high fire frequencies of medium to high intensity burns. Other regular disturbances to this population are off-road vehicles and rubbish dumping.

The Greens Beach populations (Wentworth Hill and Sea Hill) occur on dolerite geology with light grey-brown to orange-brown to dark-brown silty, sandy loam. The soil at this population has a higher sand content due to aeolian deposition of fine sand grains. The associated vegetation community is Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) woodland with an understorey of low shrubs and graminoids such as Fringe Myrtle (Calytrix tetragona), Silky Guinea-flower (Hibbertia sericea), Common Correa (Correa reflexa), Spiny-headed Mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia) and Butterfly Flag (Diplarrena moraea). The groundcover is composed of a diverse range of small sedges and herbs such as Pointed Centrolepis (Centrolepis aristata), C. strigosa, Hairy Climbing Sundew (Drosera peltata), Annual Bluebell (Wahlenbergia gracilenta), Angianthus preissianus, Tiny Pennywort (Hydrocotyle callicarpa), Stylidium perpusillum and Australian Stonecrop (Crassula sieberiana). A disturbance event was documented for this site (ground scraping with a bulldozer), which resulted in many seedlings and resprouting adults, indicating the species’ resilience to disturbance.

The Port Sorrell (Hawley Beach) population occurs on dolerite geology and the associated vegetation community is dominated by Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata), with a grassy ground layer consisting of Stipa sp. and Poa sp. Other associated species include Lepidosperma viscidum, Blueberry Lily (Dianella revoluta), Gonocarpus teucrioides, Native Violet (Viola hederacea), Climbing False-pea (Comesperma volubile) and Silky Guinea-flower (Hibbertia sericea). There have been no recent documented disturbance events at this site.

The Little Badger Head (Narawntapu National Park) population occurs on Precambrian sandstone geology with light grey fine, sily loam soil with a hardpan at shallow depth. The associated vegetation community is low, open coastal heath dominated by Slender Velvet-bush (Lasiopetalum baueri), Allocasuarina monilifera and Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium). Other associated shrubs are Myrtle Wattle (Acacia myrtifolia), Rosy Baeckea (Baeckea ramosissima) and Swamp Boronia (Boronia parvifolia), with emergent Lepidosperma concavum.

The Creeping Dusty Miller flowers from mid-September to October, mostly in early October. Individual flowers appear to be self-incompatible and cross-pollination occurs via insects (Coates 1991b). Seed is shed from mid-December to early January. Seed viability is high (80%) but seed dispersal is poor, with ants probably providing some dispersal (Coates 1991a, 1991b).

The Creeping Dusty Miller does not grow well in dense tree cover and may also be inhibited by deep ground litter or shading by shrub layers (Coates et al. 1999). The species primarily relies on disturbance (e.g. mechanical, fire) for regeneration from the soil seed bank and sites with higher abundance have been found to have had a history of heavy mechanical disturbance or recent fire (Coates 1991a). Medium to high intensity fires in inland areas are thought to result in seed germination from soil seed banks. A fire in 2002, near a known population east of the Ironstone Hills, saw the emergence of the species in a fenced area where the species was not previously recorded.

Plants can also resprout after grazing or other disturbance. Plants at the Greens Beach and Port Sorell populations resprouted and seedlings emerged, after a bulldozer scraped the area (Coates 1991a). The species can also regenerate vegetatively as trailing branches are able to shoot. Plants are resilient to most disturbances and are even able to resprout after severe grazing (Coates 1991a, 1991b).

Surveys for this prostrate shrub can be conducted anytime of the year, however the Creeping Dusty Miller flowers from mid-September to October and may be most visible during this period. It is most abundant in disturbed areas, as it can proliferate from soil-stored seed after disturbance (TSS 2013b).

Whilst the Creeping Dusty Miller is superficially similar to the Small-leaf Spyridium (Spyridium lawrencei) and the Spreading Stenanthemum (Stenanthemum pimeleoides), neither of these two species occur within the same range, being eastern Tasmanian species (TSU 2003b).

Inappropriate disturbance

Although the species requires some level of disturbance to maintain an open habitat and to stimulate germination, inappropriate disturbance can lead to the loss of individuals or whole populations. However, at inland areas, where the Creeping Dusty Miller is most abundant, disturbance from track maintenance/use, mining and wood collection have assisted the species (TSS 2011).

Habitat on private land is at risk from changes to land use such as clearing for agriculture, conversion to plantation for forestry and housing development. Vegetation clearance poses a major threat to the Greens Beach and Port Sorell populations (Barker & Johnson 1998). In the Dazzler Range, part of the largest population is in state forest classified as production forest (Barker & Johnson 1998).

Inappropriate fire regimes

The Creeping Dusty Miller is likely to be present in the soil seed bank in many areas of inland suitable habitat that have not been burnt for many decades. Frequent (less than 10 year interval) fire is likely to result in a decline of the species due to the crowding out of seedlings (by species that prefer low intensity fire) and gradual depletion of the soil seed bank. This is the likely cause of the decline of the population at Little Badger Head, which was not found in targeted searches in 1996 and 2002 (TSS 2011). A high intensity fire every 15—20 years is likely to be advantageous to the Creeping Dusty Miller (Johnson & Barker 1998).

Browsing and grazing

Browsing by the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and native animals can severely restrict the recruitment and survival of the Creeping Dusty Miller, by preventing germination or resprouting after fire. Browsing damage has been noted at Kelso, Hawley Nature Reserve, east of the Ironstone Hills and at Barnes Hill. Stock grazing may be a threat on private land. Inland sites with exclosures erected to protect the Shy Susan (Tetratheca gunnii), with which the Creeping Dusty Miller may co-occur, show a significantly high diversity in the understorey compared to species composition outside the exclosure where Creeping Dusty Miller fails to thrive (TSS 2011).


Although disturbance associated with past mining activity may have benefited the species, intensive modern mining practices are a significant threat. Mining is permissible in conservation areas, state forest and on private land. Mineral exploration proposals have increased at inland sites in recent years and a proposal to mine nickel in the Dans Hill Conservation Area has been determined to be a controlled action under the EPBC Act (EPBC Referral 2009; TSS 2011).


Known weeds in habitat that may threaten the species include Flatweed (Hypochoeris radicata), White Cudweed (Vellereophyton dealbatum), Centaury (Centaurium erythraea), Delicate Hairgrass (Aira elegantissima) and Squirrel Tail Fescue (Vulpia bromoides) (Coates 1991b).

Infection by the root rot fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi

The species' susceptibility to Phytophthora cinnamomi is unknown, but other members of the Rhamnaceae family are known to be affected (Johnson & Barker 1998).

The objectives of the Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan (TSS 2011) are to increase the number of populations, maintain the species' abundance and improve the quality of the species habitat. Proposed actions to meet these objectives include:

  • protect and manage habitat
  • implement appropriate disturbance regimes
  • identify and survey potential habitat
  • control grazing
  • monitor the populations
  • collect seed for conservation measures.

Conservation measures that have been undertaken previously include (TSS 2011):  

  • Preparation of species-specific recovery plans (Coates 1991a; TSS 2011) and inclusion in a recovery plan for selected Tasmanian forest plants (Barker & Johnson 1998).
  • Circulation of an education leaflet targeting land owners in the Port Sorell and Greens Beach area in the early 1990s.
  • Purchase of a large area of serpentine habitat in the Beaconsfield area by the Private Forest Reserves Program as part of the 1997 Regional Forest Agreement between, this area was proclaimed as Dans Hill Conservation Area in 2003.
  • Management of the species included in the management plans for Narawntapu National Park and Hawley Nature Reserve.
  • Acquisition of a section of the Hawley Beach subpopulation by the Latrobe Council as a Council Reserve. Remaining areas of this subpopulation on private land are notionally protected by a council by-law preventing clearance of vegetation above the 70 m contour.

Management documents relevant to the Creeping Dusty Miller are at the start of the profile.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan: Management Phase. 1991-1993 (Coates, F., 1991b) [State Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Wood and Pulp Plantations:Habitat destruction due to forestry activities Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan: Management Phase. 1991-1993 (Coates, F., 1991b) [State Recovery Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan: Management Phase. 1991-1993 (Coates, F., 1991b) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Recovery Plan - Selected Tasmanian Forest Associated Plants (Barker, P.C.J. & K.A. Johnson, 1998) [Report].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Negative impact from animals Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan: Management Phase. 1991-1993 (Coates, F., 1991b) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan: Management Phase. 1991-1993 (Coates, F., 1991b) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Recovery Plan - Selected Tasmanian Forest Associated Plants (Barker, P.C.J. & K.A. Johnson, 1998) [Report].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan: Management Phase. 1991-1993 (Coates, F., 1991b) [State Recovery Plan].

Barker, P.C.J. & K.A. Johnson (1998). Recovery Plan - Selected Tasmanian Forest Associated Plants. Hobart, Tasmania: Tasmanian Forestry.

Coates, F. (1991a). The Conservation Ecology and Management of Five Rare Species in the Rhamnaceae Family. Wildlife Scientific Report. 3. Hobart, Tasmania: Department of Parks, Wildlife and Heritage.

Coates, F. (1991b). Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan: Management Phase. 1991-1993. [Online]. Hobart: Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife. Available from:

Coates, F., J.B. Kirkpatrick & P.R. Minchin (1999). Towards an explanation of the causes of the rarity of two Tasmanian Spyridium species. Australian Journal of Ecology. 24:11-17.

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2010). Australian Plant Census. [Online]. Australian National Herbarium, Australian National Botanic Gardens and Australian Biological Resources Study . Available from:

EPBC Referral (2009). Proto Resources & Investments Ltd/Mining/Near Barnes Hill, Mount Vulcan and Ironstone Hills/TAS/Barnes Hill Nickel Laterite Project. [Online]. EPBC Referral 2009/5121. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Available from:

Johnson, K.A. & P.J.C. Barker (1998). Management Prescriptions for Threatened Species on Public Land. Hobart, Tasmania: Forestry Tasmania.

North Barker Ecosystem Services (2008). Barnes Hill and Mt Vulcan - Botanical Survey and Fauna Habitat Assessment.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2011). Spyridium obcordatum Flora Recovery Plan. [Online]. Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Hobart. Available from:

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2013a). Spyridium obcordatum (creeping dustymiller): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link. [Online]. Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania. Available from:

Threatened Species Unit (TSU) (2003b). Threatened Species Listing Statement - Creeping spyridium, Spyridium obcordatum. [Online]. Available from:$FILE/Spyridium%20obcordatum%20listing%20statement.pdf.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Spyridium obcordatum in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:42:56 +1000.