DEWNR staff were part of a survey team that discovered new populations of the endangered purple-flowering Arckaringa daisy (Olearia arckaringensis) at the Arckaringa breakaways, north of Coober Pedy.
The search took more than 100 hours and covered more than 100 km of Breakaway country. The surveyors counted well over 2000 Arckaringa daisy plants with several new populations found, but the distribution of the rare plant is limited.
South Australian Arid Lands Region Community Ecologist Cat Lynch says the results of the survey are very exciting, and there is still much to learn about the daisy.
‘We were extremely happy to find additional populations of the Arckaringa daisy and to be able to gather more information on the distribution, size of populations and potential threats to the species, such as grazing and erosion,’ she said.
‘It’s hoped that further surveys can be undertaken in the future to monitor any changes to the size and distribution of populations over time, and to develop effective ways of protecting this unique plant.’
Specimens of the Arckaringa daisy and other flora species were collected for the Herbarium and Seed Conservation Centre to build plant knowledge and improve scientists’ ability to describe and identify different species. Seeds will be stored to insure against species extinction in the case of an unforeseen catastrophe to the highly restricted populations.
The plant is a small, compact perennial shrub which grows to around 30 cm high, and has the ability to regrow from its woody base, which is useful in the arid zone where rainfall is infrequent.
The species was first discovered in 2000 by Senior Ecologist Rob Brandle and Scientific Officer Peter Lang.
The survey was funded by the South Australian Arid Lands NRM Board and National Landcare Program.
The survey team included staff from the region, landholders, volunteers, Traditional Owners, staff from the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park and experts from the State Herbarium of South Australia and South Australian Seed Conservation Centre.