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
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice for Colobanthus curtisiaei (Curtis' Colobanth) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2014cq) [Conservation Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, the approved conservation advice for the species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats (29/04/2014).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
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 Listing Status- Curtis' colobanth (Colobanthus curtisiae) (Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE), 2001) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Colobanthus curtisiae (Curtis' Colobanth): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014mz) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Rare (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): Rare species: September 2012 list)
Scientific name Colobanthus curtisiae [23961]
Family Caryophyllaceae:Caryophyllales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author J.G.West
Infraspecies author  
Reference Aspects of Tasmanian Botany - a tribute to Winifred Curtis (1991) 75, 76 fig. 1, t. 2
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

Colobanthus aff. apetalus (Alpine), which occurs on the mainland, is a synonym of C. curtisiae (Walsh & Stajsic 2007).

Curtis' Colobanth is a small perennial herb growing to 40 mm high. It requires bare ground for recruitment from seed and responds well to some disturbance such as grazing. The species flowers from November to February and is largely self-pollinated.

The leaves of Curtis' Colobanth are soft and narrow, tapering from the base to an apex, terminating with fine hairs. The leaves are 25–30 mm long and 1–2 mm wide. The leaves are crowded at the base, which spreads to form circular tuffs. The leaf blade has smooth margins. The flowers are solitary on the end of a 2.5–3 cm long stalk. The flowers do not have petals, but instead have five green sepals. These sepals are narrow-triangular in shape, 4.5 mm long and 1–1.5 mm wide, terminating in a fine hair-like tip. The capsules are oval and seeds are red-brown, 0.5 mm long and 0.3 mm wide (DPIWE 2001).

Curtis' Colobanth occurs in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.

In Tasmania its range extends from the Central Plateau, north to Ben Lomond, east to Fingal Tier and south to Kempton. In total the species occupies about 14 ha (DPIWE 2001).

In Victoria and NSW, the species occurs in treeless vegetation in the Australian Alps (but may extend for a short distance into adjoining snow gum woodland) (McDougall and Walsh 2007).

Curtis' Colobanth is found in grassland and grassy woodland. The species can also be found in areas subject to a variety of environmental conditions. It is commonly found on gentle slopes with elevations between 160 m in lowland areas and 1300 m in alpine areas. The species is found in areas of annual rainfall between 530 mm in the Midlands and 1400 mm on Ben Lomond. Curtis' Colobanth is commonly found on soils derived from sandstone as well as clay loams derived from dolerite and basalt. It can persist in remnant grasslands grazed by stock (DPIWE 2001).

The limited distribution of Curtis' Colobanth is due to the loss of grassland and grassy woodland on arable soils for agricultural reasons. Improved pasture and cropping are the most common reasons for habitat destruction. The species can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions and lack of suitable physical environment is not believed to be the cause of its rarity. The species decline is ongoing, most populations occur on private land in which habitat conversion for pasture improvement and cropping is still a potential. Reducing habitat loss is the main action required for the species conservation (DPIWE 2001).

Invasion by exotic species is a threat to the species. Gorse, Ulex europaeus, is capable of excluding native vegetation completely and is widespead in the lowland habitats of Curtis' Colobanth (DPIWE 2001).

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 Colobanthus curtisiae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006fo) [Internet].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low genetic diversity and genetic inbreeding Colobanthus curtisiae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006fo) [Internet].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Colobanthus curtisiae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006fo) [Internet].

Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) (2001). Threatened Species Listing Status- Curtis' colobanth (Colobanthus curtisiae). [Online]. Tasmania Government.

McDougall, K. & N. Walsh (2007). Treeless vegetation of the Australian Alps. Cunninghamia. 10(1):1-57.

Walsh, N.G. & V. Stajsic (2007). A census of the vascular plants of Victoria, 8th edition. [Online]. Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, South Yarra. Available from:

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). Colobanthus curtisiae in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Tue, 23 Sep 2014 03:30:29 +1000.