National recovery plan for a sub-alpine herb (Gentiana baeuerlenii)
A Recovery Plan under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth), based on an Action Plan (Action Plan No. 5) prepared for the species under the ACT Nature Conservation Act 1980 (ACT).
The Nature Conservation Act 1980 (ACT) establishes the ACT Flora and Fauna Committee with responsibilities for assessing the conservation status of ACT flora and fauna and the ecological significance of potentially threatening processes. Flora and Fauna Committee assessments are made on nature conservation grounds only and are guided by specified criteria as set out in its publication Threatened Species and Communities in the ACT, July 1995. In making its assessment of Gentiana baeuerlenii, the Committee concluded that it satisfied the following criteria:
1.1 The species is known or suspected to occur in the ACT region and is already recognised as endangered in an authoritative international or national listing.
1.2 The species is observed, estimated, inferred or suspected to be at risk of premature extinction in the ACT region in the medium-term future, as demonstrated by:
1.2.6 Extremely small population.
Gentiana baeuerlenii is a small annual herb, standing 24 cm high. The flowers are borne singly at the ends of branching stems. Each is bell shaped, greenish outside and blue-white inside with five petals (Figure 1).
The species is currently known from one location, in the Orroral Valley, Namadgi National Park, ACT (Figure 2). It was rediscovered by chance by Mr Laurie Adams of the Australian National Herbarium. It was believed to be extinct, having previously been described from the Quidong area near Bombala NSW, from specimens found there in 1887.
When found in 1991, the site contained 20 plants. It was resurveyed in 1994 (11 plants), 1997 (one plant), and 1998 (four plants). Annual surveys since 1998 have failed to locate any plants. Other species of rare gentians e.g. Gentiana wingecarribiensis have been observed to disappear from sites for several years before reappearing (Young 2001).
Figure 1: Gentiana baeuerlenii. As it is not known under what conditions germination of the species occurs, the site will continue to be monitored for the presence of plants.
The species occurs in the inter-tussock space of moist tussock grassland and sedgeland (Poa labillardieri and Carex gaudichaudii) associated with ground water, possibly a spring-fed area. The area is probably secondary grassland or a relict grassland opening once surrounded by open woodland. The site is on the lower slopes of a broad valley, above a river and lower valley floor.
The orchid, Spiranthes sinensis, the herb, Ranunculus pimpinellifolius and the grass Hemarthria uncinata were found in association with Gentiana baeuerlenii and this group of more widespread species may be indicators for other potential sites.
Figure 2: Map showing location (¦) of Gentiana baeuerlenii within Namadgi National Park, ACT.