The green island that is Tennyson Dunes can be thought of as Adelaide’s fourth botanical garden as it encompasses so many of the important plants of this region. Of the 52 original species that are found here, 16 are of conservation significance, including the rare and spectacular looking cushion fanflower. Many of these plants only grow in a particular and very limited area, making them incredibly vulnerable to change and all the more difficult to protect.
Please don't pick or remove any plants from the Conservation Reserve.
The plants of the Tennyson Dunes are coastal specialists that have adapted to thrive under the harsh conditions of this tough and blustery landscape. In fact, without plants the dunes as we know them wouldn’t be here at all. Tennyson Dunes Group coordinator Nick Crouch takes us through some of the species that can be found in each tier of the three tiered dune system and the role they play in stabilising the dunes.
From the late 1830s the dunes attracted a succession of botanical experts that were eager to catalogue the plants of a new land. Many of the plants they discovered, and that can still be found here, were spectacular looking with stunning flowers and bird attracting berries.
Cushion fanflower (Scaevola crassifolia)
This frontline coastal dweller has light green fleshy foliage and fragrant fan-shaped flowers that occur mostly in spring. It is an important host plant for the caterpillars of the meadow argus butterfly. You’ll find it growing in the swale and hind dune.
Coastal bearded-heath (Leucopogan paviflorus)
The green foliage of this dense shrub is enhanced in spring when white flowers grow in clusters at the end of its branches. The pale white berries that follow provide a food source that is a particular favourite of the singing honeyeater. You’ll find it growing in the swale and hind dune.
Coast daisy-bush ‘Bluebush’ (Olearia axillaris)
This hardy shrub was traditionally used by Kaurna people for smoking purposes to provide protection on fishing expeditions. You’ll find it growing throughout the dunes.
Sea box (Alyxia buxifolia)
This slow growing shrub has glossy evergreen foliage, fragrant white ‘pinwheel’ flowers that appear in summer and bright red berries that are favoured by the local birds. You’ll find it growing in the swale and hind dune.
Pigface ‘Karkalla’ (Carpobrotus rossii)
Kaurna people have long used the ‘Karkalla’ for medicinal purposes along with eating the flowers that appear from August through to October. You’ll find it growing throughout the dunes, particularly in the swale.
Coast saltbush (Atriplex cinerea)
The grey-green leaves of this bushy shrub are an important food for the caterpillars of the saltbush blue butterfly. This is a frontline bush that is fast growing and plays a critical role in stabilising the foredune, which is where you will find it growing.
Coast bitterbush (Adriana quadripartita)
This compact shrub has separate male and female plants with distinctive flowers on each that occur mostly from winter through to mid-summer. The caterpillars of the rare bitterbush blue butterfly feed exclusively on the leaves and flowers of the male plant. You’ll find it growing in the swale and hind dune.
Coastal lignum (Muehlenbeckia gunnii)
This climbing plant has tiny cream flowers and shiny arrow-shaped leaves. It is an important plant for wildlife, with its berries eaten by birds and reptiles. You’ll find it growing in the swale and hind dune.
Native juniper (Myoporum insulare)
This long-lived plant offers nesting habitat for various birds and its clumps of white or pale pink flowers provide nectar for butterflies. You’ll find it growing in the swale and hind dune.
Drooping sheoak ‘Karko’ (Allocasuarina verticillata)
This long lived tree was used by Kaurna people for making cultural artefacts and to quench thirst by sucking on leaves when going on long journeys. You’ll find it growing on the hind dune.