Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Threatened Species Notesheet - Senecio macrocarpus (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Tas. DPIPWE), 2003i) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Senecio macrocarpus (Large-fruit Fireweed, Large-fruit Groundsel): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014fa) [State Action Plan].
VIC:Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement 68 Revised 2009 - Large-fruit Fireweed Senecio macrocarpus (Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (Vic. DSE), 2009n) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
SA: Listed as Vulnerable (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
TAS: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
VIC: Listed as Endangered (Advisory List of Rare or Threatened Plants in Victoria: 2005)
Scientific name Senecio macrocarpus [16333]
Family Asteraceae:Asterales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Belcher
Infraspecies author  
Reference Muelleria 5: 119 (7 Apr. 1983).
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Senecio macrocarpus

Common name: Large-fruit Fireweed

Other names: Large-fruit Groundsel, Fluffy groundsel, Large-fruited Groundsel

Large-fruit Fireweed is a daisy that grows either as an erect long-lived herb or a small shrub (40–70 cm tall). It has greyish stalkless, linear, alternate leaves that are about 10 cm long and 2–5 mm wide which are covered in hairs that give a cobweb-like appearance. Each plant has 6–8 large yellowish flower-heads that are about 20 mm long and contain 50–100 individual flowers. The seeds are brown, covered in short dense hairs and are about 6 mm long (Belcher 1983; DEH 2007; Hills & Boekel 2003; Thompson 2004).

Large-fruit Fireweed was previously a widespread species occurring from the Yorke Peninsula in the west of South Australia, across to Victoria in an area bounded by Wimmera in the north to the Melbourne district in the east (Davies 1986). It also previously occurred in the north-east of Tasmania (Belcher 1983).

Large-fruit Fireweed is currently distributed as one very large population in Messent Conservation Park in South Australia and small populations at Daly Head on the Yorke Peninsula and Yulkiri Station, Tarcowie Parklands and Gum Lagoon Conservation Park, South Australia (Lawrence & Davies 2006). In Victoria the species range has contracted to areas around Melbourne and Ararat (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.). One population has been discovered near Gundaroo in NSW (D. Taylor 2008, pers. comm.; Thompson 2004) and the species is now considered extinct in Tasmania.

Extent of occurrence
The current extent of occurrence is calculated at 3000 km². This figure is based on Australian Virtual Herbarium data. The estimate is considered to be of low reliability as recent ground-truthing has not occurred (Australian National Herbarium 2008).

The past extent of occurrence is calculated at 5006 km² (Australian National Herbarium 2008).

Studies in Messent Conservation Park, South Australia, have indicated population stablity over the period 1992 until 2006 (Lawrence & Davies 2006). There is no data available for the rest of the populations which are much smaller in size (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.).

Area of occupancy
The current area of occupancy is estimated at 43 km². These figures are based on the number of 1 km² grid squares in which the species is thought to occur. The estimate is considered to be of low reliability as recent ground-truthing has not occurred (Australian National Herbarium 2008).

The past area of occupancy is estimated at 58 km² (Australian National Herbarium 2008).

The area of occupancy of populations in Messent Conservation Park should remain stable as long as external conditions do not change. Studies have indicated that the level of individuals in this area have remained stable from 1992 until 2006 (Lawrence & Davies 2006). There is concern for other populations due to their small population size and threats (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.).

Large-fruit Fireweed currently occurs in 17 locations (Davies 2000d; DEH 2007; Hills & Boekel 2003; Thompson 2004).

Large-fruit Fireweed is not known to be cultivated in South Australia (Davies 1986). The La Trobe University and the Organ Pipes National Parks in Victoria maintain a seed store for Large-fruit Fireweed (Hills & Boekel 2003) and the La Trobe University has plants in cultivation (Davies 1992a; Meredith & Richardson 1986).

In Victoria, Large-fruit Fireweed has been reintroduced into Organ Pipes National Park, Laverton North Grassland Reserve, Derrimut Grassland Reserve and Clare and Scobie Mackinnon Nature Reserve (Hills & Boekel 2003). A study was undertaken on the re-introduction of Large-fruit Fireweed into the following three reserves; Laverton North Grassland Reserve (introduction started in 1983), Organ Pipes National Park (introduction started in 1985) and Mooramong Nature Reserve (introduction started in 1985), and the plants were monitored until 1997. This study provided analysis of the decline in number of plants and populations at the reserves (Morgan 1999b).

A separate study was undertaken on the re-introduction of Large-fruit Fireweed into Organ Pipes National Park in 1990, and the plants were monitored until 2003. This study does not indicate numbers of plants or populations and there is no indication of whether they are using the introductions from the previous study or they introduced more plants. The results from this study indicate that the Large-fruit Fireweed population did not decline, but was a large and stable population (McDougall & Morgan 2005).

In South Australia, apart from 35 000 plants in Messent Conservation Reserve, there are only 4 locations with no more than 20 plants and usually less than 10 plants in each. Two of these sites are in conservation reserves (Davies 2000d).

The occurrence of Large-fruit Fireweed in Victoria is even more fragmented. Most of the locations occur in small, disjunct remnants of vegetation ranging from 6 m² to 3 ha (Hills & Boekel 2003) and range from 2–200 plants (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.). Seven of the 16 locations occur on rail reserves, which are susceptible to disturbance and damage from line works, traffic, fire and weed invasion. Two of the rail sites at Laverton and Sunbury have been destroyed.

In Victoria, McDougall and Morgan (2005) conducted a vegetation survey, and persistence of reintroduced species, including Large-fruit Fireweed, from 1989 to 2003 in Organ Pipes National Park. Six parallel transects, 40 m apart and 120–140 m long were established across the site in 1989. Within the transect, 1 m² quadrats were sampled at 10 m intervals, with a total of 76 quadrats being sampled every two years (McDougall & Morgan 2005).

In South Australia, Davies (1986) undertook a survey of threatened plant species of the Mount Lofty Ranges and Kangaroo Island regions. This was a preliminary survey to determine the threats to plants that were listed as threatened, and to document surviving populations and their distribution, taxonomic status, conservation status, reproductive biology and ecology. Large-fruit Fireweed was not present at Clare, however, in Messent Conservation Park five localised populations of approximately 1000 individuals were discovered. It was recommended that additional, more intensive surveys of Messent Conservation Park be undertaken (Davies 1986).

Davies (1992a) carried out another survey in the Murray Mallee, Mount Lofty Ranges and Kangaroo Island regions of South Australia. Large-fruit Fireweed was one of the species surveyed in this study. He confirmed the presence of 16 populations totaling over 30 000 individuals of Large-fruit Fireweed in Messent Conservation Park. Similar to the previous survey (Davies 1986), the area around Clare was searched but Large-fruit Fireweed was not found (Davies 1992a).

Owens and colleagues (1995) also undertook a biological survey of Messent Conservation Park in December 1994. The survey resulted in information about ten plant communities with 307 plants species, of which 36 were introduced plants. A vegetation map was prepared for the south-eastern part of the park which is the location of a proposed surface water drain. The location of Large-fruit Fireweed within the park was listed as occurring in vegetation groups 5, 6, 7, and 9. There is no indication of the number of plants present, except to indicate that the numbers were lower than in the survey by Davies in 1992 (Owens et al. 1995).

Davies (2000d) set up a permanent quadrat consisting of 10 contiguous 1 m x 1 m sub-quadrats in Messent Conservation Park in South Australia in 1992. The quadrats were set up in a typical low lying area of the park. Additionally, a larger quadrat consisting of six contiguous 5 m x 5 m sub-quadrats were also set up at the same location. Since this date the first quadrat has been monitored once and the second quadrat twice for the occurrence of Large-fruit Fireweed. The last time this was surveyed was in 1999.

The survey aimed to determine:

  • trends in population size under current fire regimes
  • the long term impact of the Bakers Range - Marcollat Drainage Scheme on a population of Large-fruit Fireweed
  • the extent of weed invasion over time
  • changes in associated native vegetation over time.

From this survey, concerns were raised over long term threats to Large-fruit Fireweed due to very low fire frequency (Davies 2000d).

Cutten and Squire (2002) conducted a survey in Messent Conservation Park, covering about 24 ha. Twenty-four transects of 8 x 20 m quadrats were counted, as well as 13.5 km of roadsides were searched from a slow moving vehicle. Some 1219 Large-fruit Fireweed locations were recorded. This survey concentrated on determining the distribution of Large-fruit Fireweed and not total numbers of plants or densities of plants (Cutten & Squire 2002).

Cutten and Squire (2003) and Cutten (2004) undertook a post-fire survey in Messent Conservation Park, for Large-fruit Fireweed. Data from eighteen transects previously set up by the authors (Cutten & Squire 2002) was collected from an area in the west of the park which covered an area of 6 km² in a north-south direction. Large-fruit Fireweed were found in the same locations as the previous survey in both burnt and unburnt areas. The plants in the burnt areas were looking healthy and robust (Cutten & Squire 2003). There was, however, little recruitment in burnt areas from seedset, most individuals being mature plants recoering from rootstock (Cutten 2004)

Lawrence and Davies (2006) summarised their survey work on Large-fruit Fireweed in Messent Conservation Park, for the period 1992 until 2006. The same quadrats were used as discussed in Davies (2000d). It was concluded that there was no significant difference in trends of Large-fruit Fireweed density between burnt and unburnt areas (up to 54 months post-fire) (Lawrence & Davies 2006).

Dickson (2008) has indicated that surveys are currently underway in Messent Conservation Park, to monitor life history of individual Large-fruit Fireweed plants and hydrological data using the same quadrats as in Davies (2000d) (Dickson 2008, pers. comm.).

Large-fruit Fireweed has about 37 000 plants growing in 17 locations. Eleven locations have been recorded in Victoria (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.) while five locations have been identified in South Australia (Davies 2000d) and there is one population of Large-fruit Fireweed in NSW of 20–50 plants (R. Rehwinkel 2008, pers. comm.). About 35 000 individuals occur in 23 populations in Messent Conservation Park (Davies 2000d). There is an additional five locations where Large-fruit Fireweed has been re-introduced, however the total number of plants at these additional sites is not available (Hills & Boekel 2003; Morgan 1999b).

With the exception of Messent Conservation Park, which has 23 populations with about 35 000 individual plants (Davies 2000d), Large-fruit Fireweed also occurs in 10–20 scattered populations; each population has 2–50 individuals with the exception of three Victorian locations where numbers are slightly higher, ranging from 100–200 individuals (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.). The following table lists population data:

Land Tenure Location Plant number Date Reference
South Australia        
Conservation Park USE Gum Lagoon Conservation Park Circa 6 1996 Davies 2000d
Conservation Park USE Messent Conservation Park 35 000 1999 Davies 1995b, 2000d
Private/Heritage Agreement Yulkiri Station 3–4 1993 Kraehenbuehl 1993, pers. comm. cited in Davies 2000d
Private Yorke Peninsula, Daly Head 9 1994 D. Murfet 1994 cited in Davies 2000d
Private Mid North Tarcowie Parklands 12 1999; 2003 Davies 2000d; Mainprize 2003
Private Yorke Peninsula, Ardrossan & Warooka Presumed extinct 1967 Davies 1986, 1992a
Private Mt Lofty Ranges, Clare Cemetry, Goolwa, Clarendon Presumed extinct 1961 Davies 1986, 1992a
Victoria        
Conservation Reserve Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve Circa 700 2004 Hills & Boekel 2003; S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.
Melbourne Water Yan Yean catchment 2 2004 Hills & Boekel 2003; S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.
Bannockburn Cemetry Trust Bannockburn Cemetry   2003 Hills & Boekel 2003
Public Transport Corporation (PTC) Rail reserve around Melbourne   2003 Hills & Boekel 2003
PTC Rail reserve around Laverton   2003 Hills & Boekel 2003
Private Laverton ex RAAF base Circa 200 2004 S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.
PTC Rail reserve around Sunbury (Bendigo line between Calder raceway and Sunbury) Destroyed 2003 Hills & Boekel 2003;
LCC 1987
PTC Rail reserve around Geelong (Geelong-Ballarat line, north-west of Bannockburn railway station)   2003 Hills & Boekel 2003;
LCC 1987
PTC Rail reserve around Geelong (Manor Road - Bulban Road, Werribee) Circa 160 2004 S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.
PTC Rail reserve around Ballarat   2003 Hills & Boekel 2003;
PTC Rail reserve around Ararat Circa 60 2004 Hills & Boekel 2003; S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.
National Park Organ Pipes National Park 96 plants from three populations were planted in 1985. Nine plants in three populations were present in 1997 1997 Hills & Boekel 2003; Morgan 1999b
National Park Organ Pipes National Park Unknown number of plants were planted in 1990, plants still present in 2003 2003 McDougall & Morgan 2005
Nature Reserve Laverton North Grassland Reserve 1740 plants from 19 populations were planted in 1983 - 58 plants in 6 populations were present in 1997 1997 Hills & Boekel 2003;
Morgan 1999b
Nature Reserve Mooramong Nature Reserve 921 plants from 9 populations were planted in 1985. Seven plants in three populations were present in 1997 1997 Morgan 1999b
Nature Reserve Derrimut Grassland Reserve Unknown number of plants were planted 2003 Hills & Boekel 2003
Nature Reserve Clare and Scobie Mackinnon Nature Reserve Unknown number of plants were planted 2003 Hills & Boekel 2003
NSW        
Private Dairy Flat Road, Gundaroo Estimated at 20-50 in 2008; 2 plants in 2013 2001;
2008
R. Rehwinkel 2008, pers. comm.; D. Taylor 2008, pers. comm.; Thompson 2004; ANBG 2013
Tasmania        
  Woodhole and South Esk River Presumed extinct 1800s Belcher 1983
 

In South Australia monitoring of permanent quadrats at Messent Conservation Park has been undertaken to compare burnt areas to unburnt areas. Overall there have been relatively small fluctuations in the preceding 12 years (Lawrence & Davies 2006).

Numbers of individuals of Large-fruit Fireweed in each quadrat at Messent Conservation Park recorded over 12 years (C. Dickson 2008, pers. comm.).
Quadrat Treatment 1992 1993 1999 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
BH92 Burnt 147 210 132 134 160 1268 243 213
ME03-2 Burnt       258 189 757 88 132
ME03-4 Burnt       125 94 266 46 49
ME03-1 Unburnt       208 227 334 395 254
ME03-3 Unburnt       157 165 726 286 411
ME03-5 Unburnt       206 207 576 255 331
 

More detailed information on localities of Large-fruit Fireweed is available from:

  • South Australia: The Information Systems Branch of the South Australian Department of Environment and Planning has population specific information (Davies 1992a). Department for Environment and Heritage "Threatened Plant Population Database" has details on populations of Large-fruit Fireweed in Messent Conservation Park including location descriptions (Davies 2000d). The Environmental Database of South Australia contains records from the plant population, reserves and survey databases (Cutten & Squire 2002).
  • Victoria: The Flora Information System (FIS) section in the Department of Sustainability and Environment is a statewide repository for flora grid and site distribution data, photographs and text descriptions and is updated regularly (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.).

The population trend for Large-fruit Fireweed appears to be decreasing. Information gathered from herbarium records indicates that Large-fruit Fireweed occurred in many more locations in South Australia and Victoria, and was once present in Tasmania. The density of populations was much higher (Davies 1986) and the total number of populations across the total range has severely reduced (McDougall & Morgan 2005).

The only information available on population numbers is for local areas. An experiment was conducted at Organ Pipes National Park, to assess the establishment of various grasses and herbs from 1989 to 2003. There are no population figures published in the report, but the authors commented that Large-fruit Fireweed went against the general downward trend. It was introduced as tubestock and managed to successfully establish a large and functional population across the site (McDougall & Morgan 2005).

A similar experiment was run across three reserves in Victoria, including Organ Pipes National Park, Laverton North Grassland Reserve and Mooramong Nature Reserve for a number of threatened species including Large-fruit Fireweed. Survival was assessed from 1983 until 1997 (Morgan 1999b). Morgans (1999b) results show a dramatic decrease in individuals and populations with:

Laverton North Grassland Reserve decreasing from 1740 plants and 19 populations to 58 plants and 6 populations
  • Mooramong Nature Reserve decreasing from 921 plants and 9 populations to 7 plants and 3 populations
  • Organ Pipes National Park decreasing from 96 plants and 3 populations to 9 plants and 3 populations.

The two sets of information for Victoria are contradictory, but the downward trend indicates how easy it would be to lose entire populations. This supports what has been seen at other sites such as Yan Yean Reservoir where the number of Large-fruit Fireweed has dropped from about 200 to two over 15 years (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.). Large-fruit Fireweed has also been lost from rail reserves at Laverton and Sunbury (Hills & Boekel 2003).

In Messent Conservation Park, a two to eight fold increase in numbers of plants of Large-fruit Fireweed was observed in 2005. By 2006 the number of plants had fallen to previously measured levels. This was explained by high levels of seedling recruitment due to above average rainfall which was then followed by an exceptionally dry year (Lawrence & Davies 2006). This was a local area phenomenon and would not have affected extent of occurrence or area of occupancy.

Large-fruit Fireweed is a perennial plant that can live up to five years (Hills & Boekel 2003) or decades (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.)

The most important location for Large-fruit Fireweed is that at Messent Conservation Park, which has 95% of known individuals (Davies 2000d).

The rest of the populations in South Australia, Victoria and NSW occur in grassy woodlands and grassland habitats, usually Themeda trianda dominant (Hills & Boekel 2003; R. Rehwinkel 2008, pers. comm.). Most of these populations are small, with less than 100 plants, and it is not known how important they could be in providing genetic diversity. It has been suggested that the most import reserves outside of Messent Conservation Park are: Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve which has several hundred Large-fruit Fireweed; Laverton ex RAAF base that has about 200 plants; Werribee has about 160 Large-fruit Fireweed plants and Dobie, near Ararat where there are about 60 Large-fruit Fireweed plants (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.).
It has been suggested that Large-fruit Fireweed may hybridise with Senecio hispidissimus in the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, and with Senecio squarrosus in south eastern Australia (Thompson 2004). There is no information available on how frequently this occurs.

The occurrence of hybridisation has not been studied for this particular species, however, it has been found that about 50% of the taxa in the genus Senecio in Australia have a chromosome number of n = 30 which would make them hexaploids. These hexaploids could only have arisen through hybridisation events (Lawrence 1980).

In South Australia, Large-fruit Fireweed occurs in the Messent Conservation Park, Gum Lagoon Conservation Park (both of which have management plans) and at Yulkiri Station which is under a Heritage Agreement (Davies 1995b, 2000d; DEH 2005t).

In Victoria, Large-fruit Fireweed is found in the Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve, Mooramong Nature Reserve, Organ Pipes National Park, Laverton North Grassland Reserve, Derrimut Grassland Reserve and Clare and Scobie Mackinnon Nature Reserve. Only at Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve is there naturally occurring populations of Large-fruit Fireweed; the remaining parks have had the species reintroduced at various times (Hills & Boekel 2003; McDougall & Morgan 2005; Morgan 1999b). Of these only Organ Pipes National Park has a management plan, however, Large-fruit Fireweed is not managed separately from the rest of the flora (Parks Victoria 1998d).

In South Australia, Large-fruit Fireweed occurs most commonly in depressions in low lying closed sedgeland but may occur in sedgeland, herbland, low shrubland to low open woodland where competition from understorey plants is low. The soils range from clay to loamy sand (Davies 2000d; DEH 2007).

In Victoria, Large-fruit Fireweed occurs most commonly in grasslands on red-brown earth soils. It may also occur in grassy woodlands and open woodlands (Hills & Boekel 2003).

In NSW, Large-fruit Fireweed occurs in partly cleared dry forests and box-gum woodlands which transition to Brittle Gum Forest with a relatively undisturbed understorey of native grasses, forbs and subshrubs (Fallding 2002; R. Rehwinkel 2008, pers. comm.).

In South Australia, at Messent Conservation Park the following vegetation associations were noted (Davies 1992a, 1995b, 2000d; Owens et. al. 1995):

  • 81% of Large-fruit Fireweed was found in Leptocarpus brownii, Baumea juncea closed sedgeland with Lepidiosperma concavum, Schoenus nitens and Tetraria capillaris.
  • 12.8% of Large-fruit Fireweed was found in Gahnia filum, Samolus repens herbland with Podolepis canescens, Wilsonia rotundifolia and W. backhousei.
  • 5.9% of Large-fruit Fireweedwas found in a Banksia ornata shrubland with or without emergent Eucalyptus incrassata with Eucalyptus diversifolia, E. fasciculosa, Lepidiosperma concavum, Pultenaea tenuifolia and Thomasia petalocalyx.

In Messent Conservation Park it was noted that no plants were recorded from either Eucalyptus diversifolia open mallee or Melaleuca brevifolia low shrubland (Cutten & Squire 2002).

The soils consist of loamy sands that are light grey when dry and dark grey when wet, and pH 8. There is scattered calcrete on the surrounding ridges (Davies 1986, 1992a, 1995b, 2000d). The elevation for 94% of Large-fruit Fireweed sites was between 9–13 m above sea level with < 1% found below this elevation (Cutten & Squire 2002).

At Gum Lagoon Conservation Park, Large-fruit Fireweed occurs in a Melaleuca brevifolia low shrubland on clay soil in a broad depression that is subject to seasonal waterlogging. Searches of this vegetation type elsewhere in the park failed to find any more plants (Davies 2006d). Davies (2000d) suggests that Large-fruit Fireweed is occurring as a successional species after a disturbance event but is now being out matured by the Melaleuca.

At Yulkiri Station, Large-fruit Fireweed occurs in a low sparse-shrubland dominated by Lasiopetalum behrii and Correa alba var. pannosa with an absent ground stratum. The plants occur in loamy sand in solution holes in sheet limestone on an undulating plain (Kraehenbuehl 1993, pers. comm. cited in Davies 2000d)

At Tarcowie in the southern Flinders Rangers, Large-fruit Fireweed plants occur in an Eucalyptus camaldulensis woodland (Davies 1999, pers. obs. cited in Davies 2000d).

At Daley Head on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, the species occurs in a Gahnia filum sedgeland surrounded by scattered Melaleuca lanceolata and M. halmaturorum (Murfet & Taplin 1994, pers. comm. cited in Davies 2000d).

In Victoria, Large-fruit Fireweed occurs predominantly in the Western (Basalt) Plains grassland on red brown earth soils found on recent Quaternary (basalt) deposits where it is the subdominant species along with Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides. It also occurs in grassy woodlands such as Grey Box Open Woodland (on Tertiary sediments) and Long-leaved Box Open Woodland (on Silurian sediments and Quaternary deposits) (Scarlett n.d., pers. comm. cited in Hills & Boekel 2003).

In NSW, Large-fruit Fireweed occurs beside a creek in a Box-Gum Woodland that is transitioning into a partly cleared Brittle Gum Forest with a groundlayer of relatively undisturbed and highly diverse native grasses, forbs and sub shrubs (Fallding 2002; R. Rehwinkel 2008, pers. comm.).

A part of the Large-fruit Fireweed habitat, the Western (Basalt) Plains Grassland Community, in Victoria, has been listed as threatened under schedule 2 of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria) and an action statement has been published (Craigie & Moorrees 2003).

Large-fruit Fireweed is associated with the following EPBC Act listed species (Cutten & Squire 2002; Davies 1995b; Mainprize 2003; Owens et. al. 1995; Pearce & Hollow 2002):

  • Metallic Sun-orchid (Thelymitra epipactoides) - Endangered
  • Spiral Sun orchid (Thelymitra matthewsii) - Vulnerable
  • Olearia pannosa ssp. pannosa - Vulnerable
  • Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides) - Endangered
  • Small Milkwort (Comesperma polygaloides) - Vulnerable.

Furthermore, Large-fruit Fireweed is associated with Purple Eyebright (Euphrasia collinia ssp. collina) a plant of significance at the Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve (Hills & Boekel 2003).

Large-fruit Fireweed is a long-lived perennial plant. Estimates place its lifespan ranging from five years to decades (Hills & Boekel 2003; S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.).

Large-fruit Fireweed flowers in Spring, from September to November and longer if conditions are favourable (DEH 2007; Scarlett et al. 1992). The disciform species of Senecio, of which Large-fruit Fireweed is one, are self-compatible (Lawrence 1985). Mature fruits are produced about two months after flowering (Thompson 2004). Seeds are wind dispersed into the nearby habitat (McDougall & Morgan 2005).

After the initial flowering and fruiting period the plants either die back, remaining dormant until the next winter or spring when they will reshoot (Davies 1986; Thompson 2004), or remain green all year round (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.).

It is thought that the seed of Large-fruit Fireweed in the soil seedbank is likely to be short lived (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.).

Large-fruit Fireweed can be distinguished from other closely related species by its narrow branch leaves and the small number of very large capitula (Davies 1992a; Hills & Boekel 2003; Thompson 2004).

Large-fruit Fireweed closely resembles Senecio squarrosus but can be distinguished by the following characters (Belcher 1983):

Senecio macrocarpus Senecio squarrosus
Leaves linear, entire, or denticulate Leaves lanceolate to linear, toothed to sublobular
Capitula 15–18 mm long Capitula 10–12 mm long
Florets 3–5 Florets 5
Achenes 4.5–5 mm long Achenes 2 mm long
Achenes rostrate Achenes thick, cylindric
Achenes brown Achenes black
Achenes hairs very short and greyish Achenes hairs white

The optimal time to survey for Large-fruit Fireweed is when the plants are flowering which is usually September to November (Hills & Boekel 2003).

After flowering, the plants may die back to a few vegetative shoots and remain this way over winter until they reshoot in spring which makes them hard to find and hard to distinguish from other closely related species (Davies 1986).

Changes in hydrology
Hydrology change applies to Messent Conservation Park, in South Australia, where the full application of the Upper South East Dryland Salinity and Flood Management Plan would mean the flooding of salty water into the park, and could affect 10 ha of Large-fruit Fireweed habitat (Davies 2000d; DEH 2007). A survey undertaken in 2002 proposed that the flooding be controlled and kept below 9 m which would leave the majority of the population intact but allow for rejuvenation of the sedgeland (Cutten & Squire 2002). A previous case in which a silted up channel was deepened in 1992 indicated that Large-fruit Fireweed will not survive long periods of flooding, particularly if the water is salty. Plants growing in this area had disappeared when revisited in 1994 (Owens et. al. 1995). In addition to the Upper South East Dryland Salinity and Flood Management Plan, a related scheme Wetlands Waterlink (DWLBC n.d.) has proposed to provide regulated flooding of low lying areas of the park with low salinity water from the Bakers Range in the South (Davies 2000d). This may have a similar detrimental effect on the Large-fruit Fireweed populations within the park.

Populations in Messent Conservation Park may also be threatened if the local water table is lowered and the depression becomes drier as this would allow the neighbouring heathland species to increase and outcompete Large-fruit Fireweed (Lawrence & Davies 2006; Owens et. al. 1995).

Hydrological change has also been suggested as a reason for the decline of Large-fruit Fireweed numbers at Yan Yean Reservoir in Victoria (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.).

Inappropriate fire regimes
Inappropriate fire regimes are a past, current and future threat, and applies to all locations of Large-fruit Fireweed (DEH 2007).

Davies (1992a) suggest an infrequent fire regime may threaten the species viability over the long term. The optimum period between fires depends upon the type of habitat that the plant grows. In the sedgelands of Messent Conservation Park, Large-fruit Fireweed is common even though the last fire had been 15 years before, however in similar habitat on private property which has not been burnt for over 25 years the species is absent (Davies 2000d). In the grasslands in Victoria, Large-fruit Fireweed only grows in Themeda trandra grasslands that are burnt every 3–4 years. If the fires were further apart, Large-fruit Fireweed would be outcompeted by the grass.

The time of year that the fire occurs is important. If the plants are burnt during periods of growth or seed set, it can threaten the plant's survival (Scarlett n.d., pers. comm. cited in Hills & Boekel 2003).

Studies have been conducted to determine the effect of fire on Large-fruit Fireweed populations in Messent Conservation Park. It was shown that fire can be used with no detrimental effect on the Large-fruit Fireweed population (Pearce & Hollow 2002). A post-fire survey undertaken 6 months after the fire showed there was no difference in distribution of plants in burnt and unburnt areas. It was also observed that while plants in the burnt areas were robust and healthy with many flower heads, those in the unburnt areas were not as robust (Cutten & Squire 2003). The survey was continued up to 54 months after the fire and there was no significant difference in plant numbers in the burnt and unburnt areas (Lawrence & Davies 2006).

Competition by weeds or other species
This threat applies to all locations of Large-fruit Fireweed (DEH 2007; Hills & Boekel 2003). Competition from other plant species is an important factor in determining the distribution and persistence of Large-fruit Fireweed (Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.). It is thought that the population at Gum Lagoon Conservation Park, South Australia is likely to be outcompeted by Melaleuca brevifolia at a later stage (Davies 2000d). In Messent Conservation Park, it has been suggested that extensive earth moving required for construction and maintenance of the proposed drains could indirectly threaten the species by encouraging weed invasion (Davies 2000d). Concern has been expressed that there could be a future threat if infestations of Ehrharta calycina were allowed to spread from the south western corner of the park into the sedgelands (Lawrence & Davies 2006). In Victoria all sites face weed invasion and this is of concern as Large-fruit Fireweed can not compete efficiently with invasive species (Hills & Boekel 2003).

Disturbance
Site disturbance is considered a threat to all locations of Large-fruit Fireweed. In Victoria, the plants at Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve are threatened by mechanical works (Curry n.d., pers. comm. cited in Hills & Boekel 2003), while future development of the Bannockburn Cemetery could also prove to be a threatening process (Hills & Boekel 2003). Most of the Victorian populations are under immediate threat of extinction due to small scale habitat destruction (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.). As previously mentioned, dredging of a channel in Messent Conservation Park resulted in Large-fruit Fireweed disappearance from the area around the channel within two years (Owens et. al. 1995).

Clearing
Large-fruit Fireweed has a preferred habitat in Victoria of gently undulating fertile plains which are particularly suited for agricultural development. Ninety-five percent of the species preferred habitat has already cleared (DCE 1992 cited in Hills & Boekel 2003).

Drought
Large-fruit Fireweed may be threatened by the drying out of its current habitat which will cause increased competition from other plants (DEH 2007). This has been raised as a concern in Messent Conservation Park (Owens et. al. 1995) and in Gum Lagoon Conservation Park (Davies 2000d).

Grazing
Grazing, particularly by rabbits and kangaroos is considered a threat to all sites in Victoria (Hills & Boekel 2003). Rabbit grazing is considered a threat particularly in Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve and the Laverton North Grassland Reserve (Craigie n.d., pers. comm. cited in Hills & Boekel 2003). At the Yan Yean site the number of plants has declined rapidly from 1987–92 and this has been attributed to the high density of kangaroos here (Tonkinson n.d., pers. comm. cited in Hills & Boekel 2003).

Sheep are known to consume Large-fruit Fireweed in preference to most other associated vegetation, and it has been suggested that the presence of sheep in native pastures may have lead to the decline in this species soon after settlement (S. Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.). Current locations of Large-fruit Fireweed are not being grazed by stock and it should be insured that grazing does not happen in the future (Hills & Boekel 2003).

Loss of viable seed
Large-fruit Fireweed is prone to attack from aphids and Red-legged Earthmites (Halotydeus destructor) which reduces the amount of viable seed a plant can produce (Hills & Boekel 2003).

Size of populations
As the majority of the populations of Large-fruit Fireweed are of small size from 2–60 plants with only four of the populations with larger numbers, any of the above mentioned threats could cause local extinction (DEH 2007).

South Australia
The Large - fruited Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus recovery program (DEH 2007) has been prepared for South Australia. The short term aim is to manage the immediate threats by weed control around existing populations and contine the monitoring of population data with respect to fire and hydrological changes. The long term aims are to restore and maintain the populations and habitat by identifying and surveying potential habitat, monitoring growth and survival, and maintainance of seed banks. This program is being run by the Threatened Species Unit, Department for Environment and Heritage, in Mount Gambier. There is no information currently available on progress of this program (DEH 2007).

  • Messent Conservation Park
    A study in prescribed burning has been undertaken in the park. The study concluded that the use of prescribed burning did not adversely affect the Large-fruit Fireweed community in the park. It was also noted that the burning did not cause weed species to increase in number or area covered (Pearce & Hollow 2002). It has also been suggested that Large-fruit Fireweed were more robust in burnt areas compared to unburnt areas (Cutten & Squire 2003). Studies have continued to the present day and still indicate that there are no significant differences between burnt and unburnt areas with regards to Large-fruit Fireweed numbers, native species cover and weed species number or cover. Cutten and Squire (2003) have suggested that the quadrats continue to be monitored annually as well as monitoring of individual plants to determine longevity of rootstocks, level of flowering and fruit set and seedling recruitment. Associated with this it is suggested that changes in watertable depth and salinity should also be monitored (Lawrence & Davies 2006).
  • Gum Lagoon Conservation Park
    The management plan for Gum Lagoon indicates that the fire management plan will be changed to assist in the protection of Large-fruit Fireweed (DEH 2005t).

Victoria
Hills and Boekel (2003) list the following threat abatement actions:
  • Some populations of Large-fruit Fireweed located on reserves have been fenced and information posts installed. It is intended to fence and signpost the remaining rail reserves.
  • The Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) has taken on responsibility for fire management at all rail sites. Some of the rail sites have been burnt and burning prescriptions are in the process of being developed for the rest of the rail reserves.
  • Weed control is occurring at the Manor Rail Reserve site through an Australian Nature Conservation Agency grant. Some research has been done on some herbicides. It has been found that RoundupTM kills Large-fruit Fireweed with the recommended dosage but others, such as FusiladeTM and Kerb 50-WPTM, do not kill the species but do kill annual grasses that compete with it (Scarlett n.d., pers. comm. cited in Hills & Boekel 2003). Because this sensitivity to some herbicides, weed control works such as those carried out near the Yan Yean site need to be carefully planned (Curry n.d., pers. comm. cited in Hills & Boekel 2003).
  • Seed has been collected, propagated and plants have been planted into Organ Pipe National Park and three other Reserves. Greening Australia Victoria, La Trobe University and the Organ Pipes National Park maintain a seed store.

The above actions will be undertaken by DNRE local area staff, in conjunction with Flora and Fauna Branch and research organisations. The relevant DNRE Area Managers will coordinate the implementation of this action statement. The primary responsibility for implementing and assessing the effectiveness of the management actions lie with DNRE Flora and Fauna Planner for the Port Phillip Area, or their equivalent (Hills & Boekel 2003).

Victorian sites will be maintained by controlling weeds and grazing. An annual or biennial burning regime will be established to occur in either December or early January or February to March where sites are dominated by Kangaroo Grass to promote seedling emergence and regrowth of plants already present. The populations will also continue to be monitored to determine their extent and density. Seed collection and seedling propagation from all populations to produce seedlings to establish 10 new self-reproducing populations of 500 plants are also proposed (Hills & Boekel 2003).

NSW
Large-fruit Fireweed is growing on private land and no actions have been undertaken (R. Rehwinkel 2008, pers. comm.).

Two translocation experiments have been conducted for Large-fruit Fireweed in Victoria. The first experiment was to plant tubestock of forty-eight species, one of which was Large-fruit Fireweed, into three different sites at Laverton North Grassland Reserve (introduction started in 1983), Organ Pipes National Park (introduction started in 1985) and Mooramong Nature Reserve (introduction started in 1985) and the plants were monitored until 1997. While the majority of species did not produce second generation seedling recruitment, Large-fruit Fireweed was one of five species that succeeded in doing this. It spite of this it was considered that Large-fruit Fireweed had not successfully established. The results of this experiment showed there was a substantial decrease in the number of populations and the number of individuals remaining in 1997 and that reintroduction will be problematic until more work is done (Morgan 1999b).

The second experiment focused on the establishment of native grassland at Organ Pipes national Park. Eighty-five native species, of which Large-fruit Fireweed was one, were introduced into the park by seed, sods and tubestock and monitored from 1989 until 2003. A large and functional population had established in the park by the end of the study (McDougall & Morgan 2005).

In New South Wales, eight plants were planted at Mcleods Creek Nature Reserve, which is close to extant population at Gundaroo (ANBG 2013).

Cutten and Squire (2002) surveyed the distribution of Large-fruit Fireweed in Messent Conservation Park to determine the effects of the proposed flooding to reinstate a more natural sedgeland ecosystem.

Thompson (2004) has undertaken taxonomic studies of Australian Senecio (Asteraceae).

Lawrence and Davies (2006) have surveyed the distribution and density of all vegetation, including Large-fruit Fireweed, in Messent Conservation Park. They have collected data from 1992 until present.

Davies (2000d) carried out a survey to determine trends in population size, impact of flooding, weed invasion and native vegetation changes over several years for Large-fruit Fireweed in Messent Conservation Park in the 1990s. Further research was recommended with eight management recommendations.

Hills and Boekel (2003) have produced the Flora & Fauna Guarantee Action statement - Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus. It discusses conservation objectives, management issues such as threats, and details the previous management plan and the intended management plan.

Lawrence and Davies (2006) have been monitoring populations of Large-fruit Fireweed since 1992 in Messent Conservation Park. They are monitoring distribution and density of all vegetation with a focus on Large-fruit Fireweed and suggest continued monitoring, management of flooding levels up to 9 m and the control of a serious environmental weed Ehrharta calycina to prevent future problems.

The Department of the Environment and Heritage (2007) has produced the recovery program Large - fruited Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus.

A Draft Recovery Plan for Large-fruit Fireweed (Senecio macrocarpus) in South Australia and Victoria 2005–09 is being produced (Sinclair 2008, pers. comm.). This draft is not available for public release.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006xh) [Internet].
National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Reduced rainfall caused by climate change National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Mechanical disturbance during construction, maintanance or recreational activities Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006xh) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit) Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006xh) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Ehrharta calycina (Perennial Veldtgrass) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Eragrostis curvula (African Lovegrass, Weeping Lovegrass, Weeping Love Grass, Boer Lovegrass, Weeping Grass) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Anthoxanthum odoratum (Sweet Vernal Grass, Sweet-scented Vernal-grass, Sweet Vernal) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Echium plantagineum (Paterson's Curse, Salvation Jane, Purple Bugloss, Blue Echium, Blueweed, Blue Weed, Lady Campbell Weed, Plantain-leaf Viper's Bugloss, Purple Echium, Riverina Bluebell) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Vinca major (Blue Periwinkle, Periwinkle, Vinca, Sorcerer's Violet, Big Leaf Periwinkle, Greater Periwinkle, Blue Buttons) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Nassella trichotoma (Serrated Tussock, Yass River Tussock, Yass Tussock, Nassella Tussock (NZ)) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Genista monspessulana (Montpellier Broom, Cape Broom, Canary Broom, Common Broom, French Broom, Soft Broom) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Asparagus asparagoides (Bridal Creeper, Bridal Veil Creeper, Smilax, Florist's Smilax, Smilax Asparagus) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Nassella neesiana (Chilean Needle grass) National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006xh) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation caused by exotic pasture species National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation by kangaroos and wallabies Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006xh) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006xh) [Internet].
National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Natural System Modifications:Indirect and direct habitat loss due to human activities Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006xh) [Internet].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006xh) [Internet].
National Recovery Plan for the Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus (Sinclair, S.J, 2010) [Recovery Plan].

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Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Senecio macrocarpus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sun, 31 Aug 2014 02:50:26 +1000.