A breakthrough on the Finniss River

Date posted: 27 April 2016

In February we had the opportunity to catch up with Ben Simon of the Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association (GWLAP).

The meet took place at the Finniss River, which flows between Yundi (near Mount Compass and the Lower Murray), and the target was the rare Grass daisy (Brachyscome graminea), which Ben had previously located on private properties along the river.

With Ben’s help we collected nearly 10,000 seeds from more than 100 plants! The seed will go into long-term storage, while plants will also be propagated for a seed orchard.

The find marked a breakthrough, as we’d not previously been able to bank rare grass daisy seeds from the Mount Lofty Ranges.

This is only the second known locality of this endangered daisy in the Mount Lofty Ranges region, and Ben recorded it along with a number of uncommon and rare species growing along the river after weed management in the catchment.

Other interesting finds included River mint (Mentha australis), Coast speedwell (Veronica hillebrandii), Swamp millet (Isachne globosa) and Prostrate blue devil (Eryngium vesiculosum).

Ben works with more than 45 landholders and a small number of expert contractors to restore remnant bushland along the river as part of the recently completed Ashbourne to Finniss Biodiversity Links project, and the currently funded Mount Compass to Meadows Biodiversity Links Project.

These projects (both funded by the Australian Government) aim to link the lower lakes to the upper catchments, which contain large patches of high quality remnant vegetation.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer amount of time and effort that Ben, the contractors, volunteer groups and landholders have put into the project, which has seen impenetrable gullies of introduced blackberry and broom restored to open river gum habitat.

Ben has also been helping to manage a nearby council reserve along Meadows Creek at Hope Forest, which contains the only other known population of grass daisy in the Mount Lofty Ranges region.

The grass daisy grows along the margins and ox-bows off the creak in swamp gum woodland in heavy cracking soils, where you’ll also find other rare plants including Slender mint (Mentha diemenica) and River everlasting (Coronidium gunnianum).

The reserve is also the location where we rediscovered a population of the Perennial marsh cress (Rorippa laciniata), which was last collected from Port Adelaide in 1909.

The SA Seed Bank has been able to bank more than 30,000 seeds from this population over the past few years.

Clearly Ben’s patch is a gold mine when it comes to SA’s threatened plant species!