Biodiversity

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 Endangered
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [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 Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Vulnerable (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Cycas ophiolitica [55797]
Family Cycadaceae:Cycadales:Cycadatae:Cycadophyta:Plantae
Species author K.D.Hill
Infraspecies author  
Reference Telopea 5(1) (1992) 190.
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.

Other illustrations Google Images
http://www.anbg.gov.au/images/photo_cd/9J18G113797/056.html
http://www.pacsoa.org.au/cycads/Cycas/ophiolitica.html

Scientific name: Cycas ophiolitica

This species is conventionally accepted as Cycas ophiolitica K.D.Hill (CHAH 2010).

A small to medium sized cycad with an erect trunk and rounded crown. Cycas ophiolitica grows to 2 m tall, though it can reach 4 m, with a trunk diameter of 4–20 cm. The glossy blue-green / dark green leaves are 95–140 cm long, with 170–220 pinnae (leaflets). New growth is bluish-green, densely hairy with grey-white or pale orange-brown hairs that persist as leaves age. The seeds are ovoid, green becoming yellowish-white, 29–33 mm long, and 28–32 mm in diameter (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

This species is separated from other Australian cycad species by the relatively broad, crowded, keeled and more or less glaucous (bluish) leaflets, the orange-floccose crown, and the small seeds (Hill 1998a).

Cycas ophiolitica is distinguished from Cycas media by the orange wool in the crown, the hairy petioles and the narrower, more crowded leaflets. It is distinguished from Cycas megacarpa by the narrower, more crowded leaflets and much smaller seeds (Hill 1998a; Forster 2001 pers.comm; DEWHA 2008a).

Cycas ophiolitica is endemic to Queensland, occurring from Marlborough to Rockhampton in central-eastern Queensland (Hill 1998a), occurring in woodland or open eucalypt woodlands (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

The species has an estimated area of occupancy of at least 2080 ha (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

The estimated total number of adult plants is 364 988 (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Sixteen extant populations are known, though populations 9, 10, 12 and 13 are considered one large and diffuse metapopulation. Some of these populations are very small in size with little evidence of recruitment (Queensland Herbarium 2007). The persistent individuals existing in these small numbers are thought to be the last remnants of once healthy populations of larger populations (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Populations 8, 9 and 13 are considered most at threat as they are not conserved and occur on land not identified as remnant vegetation.

Only populations 7, 9, 10, 12, and 13 have more than 3500 plants, which is considered a minimum viable population size. Most of these large populations of Cycas ophiolitica occur in the southern part of the species range and do not include plants that display strong bluish colouring that are sought after by cycad collectors and that have suffered significant commercial collecting pressure (Hill 1992; Queensland Herbarium 2007).

This species is recorded as hybridising with Cycas media in the area between Mackay and St Lawrence and Cycas megacarpa in the area between Rockhampton and Mt Morgan (Hill 1992, 1998a).

Two populations occur in reserves: Populations 1 and 10 in Mt Archer National Park (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Cycas ophiolitica grows on hills and slopes in sparse, grassy open forest at altitude ranges from 80–400 m above sea level. Although this species reaches its best development on red clay soils near Marlborough, it is more frequently found on shallow, stony, infertile soils, which are developed on sandstone and serpentinite, and is associated with species such as Corymbia dallachiana, C. erythrophloia, C. xanthope and Eucalyptus fibrosa. Cycas ophiolitica has also been found on mudstone in association with Corymbia dallachiana, C. erythrophloia and Eucalyptus crebra, and on alluvial loams with Corymbia intermedia, Eucalyptus drepanophylla and E. tereticornis (Hill 1998a; Queensland Herbarium 2007). Climate in the habitat of the species is tropical with hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters. Rainfall is about 1500 mm per annum falling mainly in summer and autumn (Jones 1993a).

Lifespan

The life span of Cycas ophiolitica is not well known, however, generally cycads can be long-lived, with some Macrozamia species life span ranging from 60–1500 years (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Cones

The male and female reproductive structures develop on separate plants. Male plants produce brown, hairy cylindrical cones 14–17 cm long and 6–8 cm in diameter. The female plants produce loose, open cone-like structures at the top of the plant. Two to six seeds are borne on female sporophylls (seed bearing structures) up to 30 cm long, that have a broad flat spear-shaped tip (apical lobe) with an apical spine to 2 cm long. As the seeds mature, the stalks lengthen and spread away from the top of the plant. The seeds are ovoid (egg-shaped) to spherical, about 3 cm in diameter, light brown and often with a thin powdery coating (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Fire

C. ophiolitica occur in habitats that are subjected to periodic fires of varying intensities. As with other cycads, adult plants are resistant to most fires, although the foliage may be destroyed and some scarring of the stems may occur. Fires probably kill any small seedlings or seed that is either on the plant or locally dispersed (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Pollination

It is likely that this species is pollinated by beetles (Queensland Herbarium 2007). Seed dispersal can be limited for this species, as for other cycads, due to seed toxicity and the lack of vertebrate dispersers within Australia. Seeds may be dispersed by mammals such as possums, rodents or fruit bats (Queensland Herbarium 2007). Lack of dispersal means that many populations can be locally dense in terms of individuals, with sharply defined boundaries, with no apparent change in habitat (Primack & Miao 1992, cited in Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Seed Biology

Seeds become ripe from March onwards when they drop from the megasporophylls. The seeds are not ready to germinate for at least nine months due to the delayed fertilisation unique to cycads (Norstog & Nicholls 1997, cited in Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Cycas ophiolitica is distinguished from Cycas megacarpa by its blue-green new growth and smaller seeds (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Global decline

Cycads are considered to be in decline globally (Queensland Herbarium 2007). This is due in part to natural constraints such as the particular conditions required for dispersal and recruitment, slow seedling growth and specialist pollination requirements. Anthropological influences, however, are the major driver in cycad decline, with habitat alteration and destruction severly impacting upon the natural distribution and survival of cycads worldwide (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Land clearing

Cycas ophiolitica is directly threatened by land clearing: for proposed road corridors in the vicinity of Rockhampton, Glen Geddes and Marlborough, and throughout Livingstone Shire; for housing development in the vicinity of Rockhampton City; and for existing mining and quarrying activities (Forster 1996c; Queensland Herbarium 1997, 2007).

Fire and genetic diversity

Queensland Herbarium (1997, 2007) has also identified inappropriate fire regimes, loss of genetic diversity due to the decline in individuals and impacts to insect pollinators which affect the reproductive success of the cycads as a threat to this species.

Selective poisoning and clearing

Cycad leaves and fruits are poisonous to domestic stock. Graziers in the past have taken measures to eradicate cycads from areas where domestic stock are grazed, such as selective poisoning or clearing of plants (Forster 1996c; Queensland Herbarium 1997).

Commercial pressure

This species is under severe commercial collecting pressure, especially in the north of its known range. It is known as Cycas 'Marlborough Blue' and is very popular with collectors (Forster 1996c; Hill 1998a). Plants growing in sunny situations on red clay soils derived from serpentinite have the bluest leaves and these populations have suffered from poaching (Jones 1993a).

A national recovery plan for threatened Queensland cycads that includes Cycas ophiolitica has been adopted (Queensland Herbarium 2007). This plan identifies the following actions to assist in recovery of the species:

  • Protect existing populations.
  • Prevent loss of individuals and populations from legal harvesting and salvage.
  • Prevent loss of individuals, plant parts and seeds to illegal harvesting and destruction.
  • Determine habitat, ecological and reproductive needs.
  • Manage populations according to the best available knowledge.
  • Recover populations through translocation, and increasing numbers in critical populations.

The recovery plan aims to:

  • Prevent further loss of this species, their pollinators and habitat critical for its survival.
  • Recover existing populations to normal reproductive capacity to ensure viability in the long-term,maintaining genetic viability and improving conservation status.

Translocation of cycads from threatened habitats has been practised for some time in South Africa (Boyd 1995, cited in Queensland Herbarium 2007) and has been successfully carried out for Cycas ophiolitica (Rowe and Rowe 1995, cited in Queensland Herbarium 2007).

Management documents for Cycas ophiolitica include:

  • National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium 2007).

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 Cycas ophiolitica in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006gq) [Internet].
A preliminary assessment of Cycad conservation and diversity in Queensland, Australia. Encephalartos. 46:8-18. (Forster, P.I., 1996c) [Journal].
Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Commercial harvest Cycas ophiolitica in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006gq) [Internet].
A preliminary assessment of Cycad conservation and diversity in Queensland, Australia. Encephalartos. 46:8-18. (Forster, P.I., 1996c) [Journal].
National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Illegal collection Cycas ophiolitica in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006gq) [Internet].
National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to timber harvesting National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat modification through open cut mining/quarrying activities National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Mechanical disturbance during construction, maintanance or recreational activities National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Cycas ophiolitica in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006gq) [Internet].
National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Biodiversity - rare and endangered plants, Papua - Gladstone Gas Pipline (Queensland Herbarium, 1997) [Report].
Protected status:Protected status:Lack of secure conservation land tenure Cycas ophiolitica in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006gq) [Internet].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low genetic diversity and genetic inbreeding National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development of roads and railroads National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis (Queensland Herbarium, 2007) [Recovery Plan].

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: http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/.

Forster, P.I. (1996c). A preliminary assessment of Cycad conservation and diversity in Queensland, Australia. Encephalartos. 46:8-18.

Forster, P.I. (2001). Personal Communication.

Hill, K.D. (1992). A preliminary account of Cycas (Cycadaceae) in Queensland. Telopea. 5(1):177-206.

Hill, K.D. (1998a). Cycadophyta. In: Flora of Australia. 48:597-661. Melbourne: CSIRO.

Jones, D.L. (1993a). Cycads of the world. Reed, Chatswood New South Wales.

Queensland Herbarium (1997). Biodiversity - rare and endangered plants, Papua - Gladstone Gas Pipline. Qld Herbarium, Dept of Environment, Indooroopilly.

Queensland Herbarium (2007). National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the cycads, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas ophiolitica, Macrozamia cranei, Macrozamia lomandroides, Macrozamia pauli-guilielmi and Macrozamia platyrhachis. [Online]. Report to Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/cycads.html.

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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). Cycas ophiolitica in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:02:00 +1000.