Hughans featherflower Verticordia hughanii 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.

The Department is committed to ensuring that 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This Interim Recovery Plan will operate from May 2004 to April 2009 but will remain in force until withdrawn or replaced. It is intended that, if the taxon is still ranked Endangered, this IRP will be reviewed after five years and the need for a full recovery plan assessed.

This IRP was given regional approval on 26 March, 2004 and was approved by the Director of Nature Conservation on 15 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 at May 2004.


Scientific Name: Verticordia hughanii Common Name: Hughans Featherflower
Family: Myrtaceae Flowering Period: November to April; best between mid November and January
CALM Region: Wheatbelt CALM District: Merredin
Shire: Dowerin Recovery Team: Merredin District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (MDTFRT)

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.; George, E.A. (2002) Verticordia, The Turner of Hearts. University of Western Australia Press, Western Australia; Mueller, F. (1878) Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 11.

Current status: Verticordia hughanii was declared as Rare Flora under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 in September 1987 and ranked as Endangered (EN) in May 1997. The species is also listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). It currently meets World Conservation Union (IUCN 2000) Red List Category EN under criteria B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) as it is known from less than five locations and there is a continuing decline in the area, extent and quality of habitat. The main threats are poor recruitment, rabbits, weeds, salinity and inappropriate fire regimes.

Description: Verticordia hughanii is a small openly to densely branched shrub 15-30cm high x 35 -75 cm wide, without a lignotuber and with one to several basal stems. Leaves are spreading and oblong. Flowers are axillary, congregated towards the apex of branches. The calyx-tube is glabrous, with five herbaceous lobes divided into plumose segments. Petals are orbicular, striate, minutely denticulate towards the apex and bright red in colour (Blackall and Grieve 1980; Brown et al. 1998). Verticordia hughanii is similar to V. drummondii but has smaller flowers and lacks fringed margins to the petals (Blackall and Grieve 1980).

Habitat requirements: Verticordia hughanii is confined to an area between Dowerin and Goomalling in Western Australia where it grows amongst low scrub in grey/yellow and pink, sandy soil on the edge of salt lakes (Brown et al. 1998).

Critical habitat: The critical habitat for Verticordia hughanii comprises the area of occupancy of the known populations; remnant vegetation that links subpopulations; additional nearby occurrences of similar habitat that do not currently contain the taxon but may have done so in the past and may be suitable for translocations; and the local catchment for the surface and ground waters that provide the seasonally moist habitat required by the taxon.

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

Benefits to other species/ecological communities: Recovery actions implemented to improve the quality or security of the habitat of Verticordia hughanii will also improve the status of remnant vegetation in which it is located and which includes the Priority 3 taxa Calothamnus brevifolius, Conospermum eatoniae and Grevillea roycea.

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. Although the taxon is listed under the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) this IRP does not affect Australias obligations under international agreements.

Role and interests of indigenous people: According to the Department of Indigenous Affairs Aboriginal Heritage Sites Register, no sites have been discovered near the Verticordia hughanii populations. Input and involvement will be sought from any indigenous groups that have an active interest in the areas that are habitat for V. hughanii, and this is discussed in the recovery actions.

Social and economic impacts: The implementation of this recovery plan has the potential to have some limited social and economic impact, as one population is located on private property. However, the current landowners are keen to use this area as a private flora conservation reserve and recovery actions refer to continued liaison between stakeholders with regard to this area.

Evaluation of the Plans Performance: The Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), in conjunction with the Merredin District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (MDTFRT) will evaluate the performance of this IRP. In addition to annual reporting on progress and evaluation against the criteria for success and failure, the plan will be reviewed following five years of implementation.

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

  1. The owner of the land containing Population 2 was officially notified of the species and its location in May 1987.
  2. An area of 54 hectares containing Population 2 of Verticordia hughanii was fenced by the landowner in 1988.
  3. Approximately 1885 seeds were collected from Population 2 in March 1999 and stored in CALMs Threatened Flora Seed Centre at 18C.
  4. The Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA) have six clones of Verticordia hughanii, three originated from an undetermined source, one from the Department of Agriculture Western Australia (AGWA), one from Western Flora and one from cultivated plants. Most material was received as cuttings.
  5. An article about the fencing of Population 2 of Verticordia hughanii on private property was published in CALM News in August 1988.
  6. Rabbit control using 1080 poisoned oats was undertaken at Population 1 by AGWA in 2001, in liaison with staff from CALMs Merredin District and adjacent property owners.
  7. In 2001, sheep were accessing the nature reserve (Population 1) through a hole in the fence and open gates. The fence has been fixed and the gates closed and there has not been any further sign of sheep in the reserve.
  8. In 2003, signs were erected at the main entrances to the nature reserve (Population 1) to help control access and rubbish dumping. Bollards were installed to block a minor track in the reserve in 2004.
  9. In December 2003, seed was collected from Population 1.
  10. The Merredin District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (MDTFRT) is overseeing the implementation of this IRP and will include information on progress in its annual report to CALMs Corporate Executive and funding bodies.
  11. Staff from CALMs Merredin District office regularly monitors both populations.

IRP Objective: The objective of this Interim Recovery Plan is to abate identified threats and maintain or enhance 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. Continue rabbit control
  4. Undertake weed control
  5. Stimulate and monitor germination
  6. Remove rubbish from Population 1
  7. Conduct further surveys
  8. Develop and implement a fire management strategy
  9. Monitor populations
  10. Collect seed and cutting material
  11. Liaise with relevant land owners and land managers
  12. Seek improved long-term security of Population 2
  13. Promote awareness
  14. Obtain biological and ecological information
  15. Develop and begin implementing a translocation proposal
  16. Review the need for a full Recovery Plan or an update to this IRP and prepare if necessary