Survey of Daintree’s Lot 2 finds rare and threatened plants

A vegetation survey of Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive has identified 230 species of plants including the Thornton Aspen, China Camp Laurel, and Ant Plant. 

Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive in the Daintree Rainforest

The survey of Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive, Forest Creek in Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest was conducted by ecologist and botanist Kristopher Kupsch on the 25th of June 2021. It identified a number of plants that are locally endemic or listed as Threatened species. 

The survey confirmed the importance of protecting the property from the threat of development and that's why we moved quickly to exchange a contract of sale on this important piece of land. Now, what we need to do is raise the funds to complete the purchase. 

Lot 2 comprises two distinct ecosystems by changes in soil/drainage conditions. One a Sclerophyll open woodland and the other a closed canopy Rainforest habitat. Some plant species are shared between these two habitats however those which do are often opportunistic colonisers, such as a handful of rainforest species occupying the open woodland presumably due to lack of fire in recent years. Conversely, nearly zero sclerophyll species are found in the rainforest habitat.

Northern Banksia (Banksia aquilonia)

The Sclerophyll vegetation is characterised by Regional Ecosystem 7.11.40a Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia) woodland to open forest and shrubland on quartzite or associated metamorphics, of the very wet rainfall zone. Palustrine wetland occurs in the lower part of the site in association with a drainage gully dominated by Sedges (Gahnia) and has markedly lower species diversity. This vegetation type is classified under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 as “Of concern”. It is vegetation that requires fire and careful management of this habitat at widely spaced time frames to hamper rainforest plants invading.

The Sclerophyll vegetation of the site's most elevated regions is diverse and in pristine condition. An element of minor historic pre-empted clearing for a dwelling is evident. The most significant occurrence within this ecosystem is the abundance of the Vulnerable Ant Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii) in which many individuals would be affected in the event of a dwelling being erected.

The Rainforest characteristic of Regional Ecosystem 7.3.4 to the rear of Lot 2 has a similar vegetation structure and diversity to many places in the lowlands dominated by Fan Palms (Licuala ramsayi). The fact the soil is often saturated and drainage impeded results in a rainforest type much shorter than forests on well-drained sites.

Fan Palms (Licuala ramsayii) occur on the property and the species delineates the two main types of vegetation — the sclerophyll vegetation (sclerophyll forests generally are dominated by plants that have hard leaves adapted to drought and are fire-tolerant) — and the mesophyll vine forest (tropical rainforest) featuring these Fan Palms in abundance.

A small creek on Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive

The description of this rainforest type is Mesophyll vine forest with Fan Palm (Licuala ramsayi) in the lowlands of very wet rainfall zones, on humic gluey alluvial soils with seasonally impeded drainage derived from metamorphic and granitic parent material. This vegetation type is classified under the Vegetation Management Act as “Of concern”. This forest type is listed as Essential Cassowary habitat under the Vegetation Management Act 1999. This type of vegetation is commonly found in the Cape Tribulation and the Mission Beach-Tully districts.

The presence of Cassowaries was noted in the form of even-aged cohorts of germinated seed arising from Cassowary scats within the rainforest habitat near the creek in the eastern portions of the property.

Cassowary and chick in the Daintree Rainforest

Four Threatened plant species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 have been found on the property.

The “Near Threatened” China Camp Laurel (Beilschmiedia castrisinensis) occurs on the property and was identified growing within Cassowary droppings. This species of tree only grows in the Daintree Rainforests north of the Daintree River and South of the Bloomfield River. This species has large fruits the size of tennis balls and its fruits are only dispersed by the Southern Cassowary and thus a symbiotic relationship has evolved.

The “Near Threatened” Thornton Aspen (Acronychia acuminata) is found on this property. This species is only found in rainforests surrounding Thornton Peak, the highest mountain in the Daintree. The fruits are attractive to birds including the Southern Cassowary and rainforest pigeons. The Thornton Aspen, a rare plant previously found at only six locations between the Daintree River and Bloomfield to the north.

Thornton Aspen (Acronychia acuminata)

The Thornton Aspen is endemic to the Daintree Rainforest.

The "Vulnerable" Ant Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii) is found on Lot 2. The Ant Plant is threatened generally by habitat loss, invasion of weeds, and by the illicit removal of the plants by plant and butterfly collectors. It’s an epiphytic plant, it grows on another plant but is not parasitic. It lives harmlessly on Melaleuca trees and others with spongy bark in the wetlands and mangroves of tropical north Queensland. The Ant Plant has a special association with the Golden Ant (Iridomyrmex cordatus) which lives in the chambers of its tuber. What’s more, the Apollo Butterfly lays its eggs on this plant. The Golden Ants carry the butterfly eggs into the tuber chambers where they develop as butterflies. The Ant Plant’s flowers are white and tubular, to 10mm, and the fruit is white/translucent containing a single seed. These single seeds are transported to other trees by the Mistletoe bird (dicaeum hirundinaceum).

Ant Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii)

Ant Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii)

The "Near Threatened" Noah's Walnut (Endiandra microneura). It produces large yellow oblong-shaped fruits that are dispersed by the Southern Cassowary. This species is only found naturally within the Daintree rainforests predominately north of the Daintree River and south of Cape Tribulation. This tree is noticeable in the forest as it produces a vibrant display of limp red new leaves. It is listed as Near Threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Noah's Walnut (Endiandra microneura)

Noah's Walnut (Endiandra microneura)

Other plants of restricted natural occurrence identified on Lot 2 were the myrtaceous shrub Rhodomyrtus effusa which only occurs between Julatten and the Bloomfield River.

The rare understorey tree Sarcotoechia villosa found only between Kuranda and Forest Creek (near the Daintree River). This population on Lot 2 represents the species' most northern occurrence.

Pothos brassii. This vine is endemic to the area between Cape Tribulation in the north and Bellenden Ker to the south. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 750 m. This slender vine has a stem not exceeding 2 cm in diameter and usually grows in well-developed lowland and upland rain forest. 

Pothos brassii

Pothos brassii

Another unique tree on lot 2 is the Daintree Satinash (Syzygium monospermum) a species with a symbiotic relationship with Ants that inhabit the trunk of the tree. This species is only found in lowland rainforests between Cape Tribulation and Julatten.

Daintree Satinash (Syzygium monospermum)


No exotic weed species were identified on Lot 2.







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  • Kelvin Davies
    published this page in Latest News 2021-07-23 13:11:11 +1000