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, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Threatened Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea arenaria and Xanthorrhoea bracteata) (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW), 2006h) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi (Department of the Environment, 2014a) [Threat Abatement 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 - Xanthorrhoea arenaria (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Tas. DPIPWE), 2003l) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Xanthorrhoea arenaria (Sand Grasstree): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014fo) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
Scientific name Xanthorrhoea arenaria [21603]
Family Xanthorrhoeaceae:Liliales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Bedford
Infraspecies author  
Reference Flora of Australia 46 (2 May 1986) 225.
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: Xanthorrhoea arenaria

Common name: Sand Grasstree

At one stage this taxon was regarded as a hybrid between Xanthorrhoea minor and X. australis (Lee 1966, in Bedford 1986). Bedford (1986) described it as a separate species in the Flora of Australia. The species grades into X. bracteata and X. australis, and the three are hard to separate. It has been suggested that X. arenaria only occurs on Freycinet Peninsula and that X. bracteata is restricted to the northern coast. However others claim that they co-occur (Bedford 1986; Kirkpatrick 2000; R.Schahinger et al. 2003; Tasmanian DPIWE 2000, pers. comm).

The Sand Grasstree, Xanthorrhoea arenaria, is a trunkless grass-tree (Bedford 1986; Curtis & Morris 1994). The species has greyish to bluish-green leaves that measure 40–80 cm long, 2–3 mm wide and 1–2.5 mm thick. The scape (naked stem below flower spike) is 20–60 cm long and 8–11 mm in diameter. The flowers are arranged in a spike that is greater than one-third but less than half the length of the flower stem (Tas DPIW 2006h).

The Sand Grasstree is found on the north-east and eastern coasts of Tasmania from Bridport to Coles Bay (Bedford 1986; Barker & Johnson 1998; Johnson & Barker 1998; Kirkpatrick 2000; Morris 1994).

The species is known from 13 locations, the number of sites at many locations is unknown. Locations include (Tas DPIW 2006h):

  • Little Boobyalla River Conservation Area- Conservation Area
  • One Tree Hill (Waterhouse)- Conservation area
  • south of Beauty Point- Public reserve (CLA reserve)
  • Weymouth - Private land
  • Bridport - Bridport Coastal Reserve
  • Cray Creek (Mount William) - Mount William National Park
  • Icena Creek (Mount William) - Private land
  • Binalong Bay - Humbug Point Nature Recreation Area
  • St Helens - Private land
  • Saltwater Lagoon - Freycinet National Park
  • Coles Bay (Saltwater Creek) Freycinet National Park, Coles Bay Conservation Area and Public reserve.

Numbers of this species may be in the thousands, however, the unclear taxonomic status of Xanthorrhea arenaria and X. bracteata and the species' similarities can lead to confusion in field identification, and precise individual and population estimates are not known (Tas DPIW 2006h).

The species is conserved in Freycinet National Park (Briggs & Leigh 1996) and within the South Esk Pine Reserve, a privately managed conservation reserve on the Apsley River near Coles Bay (Australian Bush Heritage 2003). It is also known from Coles Bay Conservation Area, Humbug Point Nature Recreation Area, Mount William National Park, Little Boobyalla River Conservation Area and Waterhouse Conservation Area, along with three public reserves at Beauty Point, Bridport and Coles Bay (Tas DPIW 2006h).

The species usually occurs in low-lying sandy areas (Bedford 1986), or in sandy heaths (Barker & Johnson 1998; Curtis & Morris 1994; Kirkpatrick 2000).

The population in the South Esk Pine Reserve grows with other plants of conservation significance including Callitris oblonga sub-species oblonga, Bertya rosmarinifolia, Odixia angusta and Stenanthemum pimeleoides (Australian Bush Heritage Fund 2003).

The life span of this species is unknown, however mature Xanthorrhea plants can live for up to 300 years (Tas DPIW 2006h).

Flowers have been recorded from June–January (Bedford 1986; Barker & Johnson 1998) however flowering in Xanthorrhoea species is unpredictable, often requiring stimulation by fire (Tas DPIW 2006h). The flowers of Xanthorrhoea species are thought to be insect pollinated, though birds, such as honeyeaters and wattle birds, as well as small mammals are known to visit the flower spikes due to the presence of nectar. Insect pollinators are thought to include ants, wasps, bees and beetles. The flower spike grows extremely fast. Recruitment into populations is via seed, and is likely linked to episodic events. Whilst large amounts of seed are generally produced (two round or oval and slightly flattened seeds contained in each capsule on the flower spike) and germination is relatively easy, seeds have a short viability period, and in the wild the right set of conditions need to be present for germination (Tas DPIW 2006h).

The major threat faced by this species is infection by the root rot pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi, which is prevalent in much of the habitat containing Xanthorrhoea arenaria. Plants are also at risk from land clearance due to housing development, agriculture and mining, and a decline in the quality of habitat through inappropriate fire and disturbance regimes (Tas DPIW 2006h).

A national recovery plan for threatened Tasmanian Grasstrees has been adopted (Tas DPIW 2006h). The main objectives of this recovery plan include the:

  • Prevention or minimisation of decline in known populations particularly with respect to management of Phytophthora cinnamomi.
  • Determination of the extent of threatened grasstrees in Tasmania.
  • Development of a field-based identification system to enable appropriate management of threatened Tasmanian grasstrees.
  • Management of populations in the long term.

The Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi has also been adopted (DEWHA 2009w).

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 Tasmanian Threatened Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea arenaria and Xanthorrhoea bracteata) (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW), 2006h) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Habitat loss/conversion/quality decline/degradation National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Threatened Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea arenaria and Xanthorrhoea bracteata) (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW), 2006h) [Recovery Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Threatened Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea arenaria and Xanthorrhoea bracteata) (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW), 2006h) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Vegetation and habitat loss caused by dieback Phytophthora cinnamomi National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Threatened Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea arenaria and Xanthorrhoea bracteata) (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW), 2006h) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Threatened Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea arenaria and Xanthorrhoea bracteata) (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW), 2006h) [Recovery Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Threatened Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea arenaria and Xanthorrhoea bracteata) (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW), 2006h) [Recovery Plan].

Australian Bush Heritage Fund (2003). South Esk Pine Reserve. [Online]. Australian Bush Heritage Fund. Available from: http://www.bushheritage.asn.au/reserves/south_esk/index.html.

Barker, P.C.J. & K.A. Johnson (1998). Recovery Plan - Selected Tasmanian Forest Associated Plants. Hobart, Tasmania: Tasmanian Forestry.

Bedford, D. (1986). Xanthorrhoea. In: Flora of Australia. 46:148-169. Canberra: AGPS.

Briggs, J.D. & J.H. Leigh (1996). Rare or Threatened Australian Plants - Revised Edition. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing.

Curtis, W M & D.I. Morris (1994). The Student's Flora of Tasmania Angiospermae: Alismataceae to Burmanniaceae. Hobart, Tasmania: St David's Park Publishing.

Department of the Environment (2014a). Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi. [Online]. Canberra; ACT: Department of the Environment. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/threat-abatement-plan-disease-natural-ecosystems-caused-phytophthora-cinnamomi.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2009w). Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi. [Online]. Canberra; ACT: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/phytophthora.html.

Johnson, K.A. & P.J.C. Barker (1998). Management Prescriptions for Threatened Species on Public Land. Hobart, Tasmania: Forestry Tasmania.

Kirkpatrick, J. (2000). Threatened Flora -plants listed as extinct, endangered or vulnerable. [Online]. Created by Bushcare Technical Extension (Tasmania). Available from: http://www.bushcare.tas.gov.au/info/.

Schahinger, R., T. Rudman & T. Wardlaw (2003). Conservation of Tasmanian Plant Species & Communities threatened by Phytophthora cinnamomi. Strategic Regional Plan for Tasmania. Technical Report 03/03. Hobart, Tasmania: Nature Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW) (2006h). National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Threatened Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea arenaria and Xanthorrhoea bracteata). [Online]. Hobart, Tasmania: DPIW. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/x-arenaria-x-bracteata.html.

Tasmanian DPIWE (2000). Personal communication.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Xanthorrhoea arenaria in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 3 Sep 2014 10:03:31 +1000.