Spiral flag Patersonia spirafolia interim recovery plan 2004-2009

Western Australian Threatened Species and Communities Unit (WATSCU) © The Western Australian, Department of Conservation and Land Management, 2004


Interim Recovery Plans (IRPs) are developed within the framework laid down in Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) Policy Statements Nos. 44 and 50.

IRPs outline the recovery actions that are required to urgently address those threatening processes most affecting the ongoing survival of threatened taxa or ecological communities, and begin the recovery process.

CALM is committed to ensuring that Critically Endangered taxa are conserved through the preparation and implementation of Recovery Plans or Interim Recovery Plans and by ensuring that conservation action commences as soon as possible and always within one year of endorsement of that rank by the Minister.

This Interim Recovery Plan will operate from June 2004 to May 2009 but will remain in force until withdrawn or replaced. It is intended that this IRP will be reviewed after five years and the need for further recovery actions assessed.

This IRP was given regional approval on 4 June, 2004 and was approved by the Director of Nature Conservation on 22 June, 2004. The allocation of staff time and provision of funds identified in this Interim Recovery Plan is dependent on budgetary and other constraints affecting CALM, as well as the need to address other priorities.

Information in this IRP was accurate in June 2004.


Scientific Name: Patersonia spirafolia Common Name: Spiral Flag
Family: Iridaceae Flowering Period: October-November
CALM Region: Midwest CALM District: Moora
Shire: Dandaragan Recovery Team: Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team

Illustrations and/or further information: Brown, A., Thomson-Dans, C. and Marchant, N. (Eds) (1998) Western Australias Threatened Flora, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia; G.J. Keighery (1990) Patersonia spirafolia (Iridaceae), a new species from south-western Australia. Nuytsia 7(2), 137-139.

Current status: Patersonia spirafolia was declared as Rare Flora in November 1997 under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950. Patersonia spirafolia is also listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). It currently meets World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List category Endangered under criteria B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v);C2a(ii)b (IUCN 2000) as there are only five populations, with over 95% of plants in one population, the number of adult plants fluctuates widely, and there is continuing decline in the quality of habitat. The main threats are road, powerline and firebreak maintenance, disease, inappropriate fire regimes and poor recruitment.

Description: Patersonia spirafolia is a perennial herb to 50 cm tall, with a spreading woody rootstock producing a tussock to 40 cm across. The leaves are linear, up to 20 cm long and 5 mm wide, and spirally twisted. The brown leaf margins have fringes of soft hairs that point towards the centre of the leaf. The scape is up to 25 cm long, 1-2 mm wide and reddish-green. The spathe (a leaf-like structure enveloping the inflorescence) is brown, lanceolate in shape and up to 26 mm long with thin, almost transparent margins. The flowers have three broad spreading blue-violet sepals to 19 mm long and 14 mm wide, and three upright blue-violet petals about 1 mm long. The seed capsule is roughly egg-shaped and up to 3 cm long. (Keighery 1990; Patrick and Brown 2001).

Habitat requirements: Patersonia spirafolia is currently known over a range of less than 10 km, south west of Badgingarra. It is found on lateritic ridges and slopes or sand over laterite in low heath with Allocasuarina humilis, Gastrolobium spinulosum, Daviesia species, Xanthorrhoea preissii and Patersonia occidentalis.

Critical habitat: The critical habitat for Patersonia spirafolia comprises the area of occupancy of the known populations; similar habitat within 200 metres of known populations; corridors of remnant vegetation that link populations and additional nearby occurrences of similar habitat that do not currently contain the species but may have done so in the past and may be suitable for translocations.

Habitat critical to the survival of the species, and important populations: Given that this species is listed as Endangered, it is considered that all known habitat for wild and translocated populations is habitat critical to its survival, and that all wild and translocated populations are important populations.

Benefits to other species or ecological communities: Daviesia chapmanii (Priority 4) and D. epiphyllum (Priority 3) both grow in the habitat of Patersonia spirafolia, and are listed on CALMs Priority Flora list (Atkins 2003). Recovery actions such as maintaining dieback hygiene at Patersonia spirafolia populations will also protect the habitat in which the populations are located.

International obligations: This plan is fully consistent with the aims and recommendations of the Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by Australia in June 1993, and will assist in implementing Australias responsibilities under that Convention. However, as Patersonia spirafolia is not specifically listed under any international agreement, the implementation of other international environmental responsibilities is not affected by this plan.

Role and interests of indigenous people: Indigenous communities interested or involved in the regions affected by this plan have not yet been identified. The Aboriginal Sites Register maintained by the Department of Indigenous Affairs does not list any significant sites in the vicinity of these populations. However, not all significant sites are listed on the Register. Input and involvement will be sought from any indigenous groups that have an active interest in the areas that are habitat for Patersonia spirafolia, and this is discussed in the recovery actions.

Social and economic impact: The implementation of this plan is unlikely to cause significant adverse social and economic impact as populations exist in a National Park and on road reserves. However, recovery actions will involve liaison and cooperation with all stakeholders.

Evaluation of the plans performance: The Department of Conservation and Land Management will evaluate the performance of this IRP in conjunction with the Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team. In addition to annual reporting on progress with listed actions and comparison against the criteria for success and failure, the plan is to be reviewed within five years of its implementation.

Existing Recovery Actions: The following recovery actions have been or are currently being implemented:

  • Relevant land managers have been made aware of the location and threatened status of the species.
  • Markers are in place at all roadside populations.
  • Liaison with relevant land managers ensures awareness of the significance of these markers.
  • The Botanic Garden and Parks Authority currently hold 3 plants in the nursery.
  • The presence of Phytophthora cinnamomi has been confirmed in the vicinity of Population 5.
  • An inactive gravel pit near Population 5 has been ripped and there is some regeneration of associated species.
  • A protection burn was undertaken near Population 1 in September 2001. This area was burnt in a wildfire in December 2002, and the regeneration is being monitored.
  • An information sheet that describes and illustrates the species has been prepared and will be printed in the near future.
  • A handbook of Declared Rare Flora occurring on roadsides in the Shire of Dandaragan has been produced and is being distributed. The book includes information on this taxon.
  • Staff from CALMs Moora District have trained members of the West Midlands Natural Resource Management Group in survey techniques and identification of this species.
  • Staff from CALMs Moora District regularly monitor populations of the species.
  • The Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team is overseeing the implementation of this IRP and will include information on progress in annual reports to CALM's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

IRP objective: The objective of this Interim Recovery Plan is to abate identified threats and maintain or enhance viable in situ populations to ensure the long-term preservation of the species in the wild.

Recovery criteria

Criteria for success: The number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have increased by ten percent or more over the period of the plans adoption under the EPBC Act.

Criteria for failure: The number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have decreased by ten percent or more over the period of the plans adoption under the EPBC Act.

Recovery actions:

  1. Coordinate recovery actions
  2. Map critical habitat
  3. Liaise with relevant land managers
  4. Maintain dieback hygiene
  5. Assess dieback susceptibility
  6. Monitor populations
  7. Conduct further surveys
  8. Develop and implement a fire management strategy
  9. Collect seed
  10. Promote awareness
  11. Obtain biological and ecological information
  12. Review the need for a full Recovery Plan