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 Critically Endangered as Achyranthes arborescens
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice for Achyranthes arborescens - (Chaff Tree, Soft-wood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2003r) [Listing Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Predation by exotic rats on Australian offshore islands of less than 1000 km2 (100,000 ha) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2006a) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010) [Recovery Plan] as Achyranthes arborescens.
 
Information Sheets What the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) means for Norfolk Islanders (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2004i) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (03/11/2003) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2003a) [Legislative Instrument] as Achyranthes arborescens.
 
Scientific name Achyranthes arborescens [65879]
Family Amaranthaceae:Caryophyllales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author R.Br.
Infraspecies author  
Reference Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae: 417 (1810).
Other names Centrostachys arborescens [78852]
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.

Other illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Achyranthes arborescens

Common name: Chaff Tree, Soft-wood


This species is conventionally accepted. However, based on morphology and chromosomal studies, de Lange and Murray (2001, 2003) suggest that this species may not belong in the Achyranthes genus.

Chaff Tree is a sparingly branched soft-wooded tree growing to 9 m tall. The leaves are yellow-green to dark green, elliptic to slightly lance-shaped, 5–8 cm long and 2–3.5 cm broad. The flowers are white or pale yellow, with a pale amber perianth, and 20–90 flowers per inflorescence (de Lange & Murray 2001; Green 1994). The flowers are enclosed by shining pink, sharp-pointed bracts (Sykes & Atkinson 1988).

Chaff Tree is found only on Norfolk Island (de Lange et al. 2005).

It has been recorded from the southeast of Mt Bates and between Palm Glen and Red Roads (Green 1994).

Sykes and Atkinson (1988) conducted a two-week field study of 14 rare and endangered plant species of Norfolk Island in 1987. They found only 55 individuals of Chaff Tree, and believed this to represent a high proportion of the total population on the Island (Sykes & Atkinson 1988).

In 2003 the total number of mature Chaff Tree individuals found was 57 (TSSC 2003r). Chaff Tree is found as four subpopulations, with each subpopulation containing no more than 40 individuals (TSSC 2003r).

Subpopulations of Chaff Tree are found in Norfolk Island National Park.

Sykes and Atkinson (1988) also recorded at least one population outside the Park, in the Mission Road forest remnant.

This species favours streamsides and damp forest situations (de Lange & Murray 2001), most commonly occurring in gullies and valleys in moist forest (Green 1994; Sykes & Atkinson 1988; TSSC 2003r). It also occasionally grows on ridges (Sykes & Atkinson 1988) and has been successfully translocated (de Lange & Murray 2001).

Chaff Tree can grow in the shade of Norfolk Palm (Rhopalostylis baueri) and Bloodwood (Baloghia inophylla), but it is predominantly a canopy-gap plant, requiring an opening in the forest canopy and high light levels for good establishment (Sykes & Atkinson 1988).

Mature trees fruit prolifically and almost certainly produce large numbers of viable seed. However, there are few seedlings and saplings in the population (Sykes & Atkinson 1988). Chaff Tree can produce new shoots from the roots (Sykes & Atkinson 1988).

Chaff Tree is threatened by grazing from cattle, which reduces recruitment of seedlings (Sykes & Atkinson 1988; TSSC 2003r).

It is also threatened by high levels of seed predation by introduced rats (TSSC 2003r).

Introduced weeds such as Solanum mauritianum (Mauritius Tobacco) and Homalanthus populifolius (Bleeding Heart) require similar habitat to Chaff Tree and may out-compete it, occupying key habitat (Sykes & Atkinson 1988; TSSC 2003r). The vine Ipomoea cairica (Morning Glory) sometimes smothers Chaff Tree by climbing over the plant and restricting its growth (Sykes & Atkinson 1988).

There is increasing tourism in the Norfolk Island Group. Impacts from tourism (such as trampling) and tourist infrastructure demands can have a negative impact on the Islands' flora (Director of National Parks 2008; Hyder Consulting 2008).


Cyclones are known to occur over Norfolk Island, particularly in the early months of the year (BoM 2008), and Chaff Tree is potentially vulnerable to cyclone damage (TSSC 2003r). Sykes and Atkinson (1988) note that seedlings of Chaff Tree growing on valley floors were reported to be washed away during heavy rainfall.

A rat control program has been implemented within Norfolk Island National Park (Director of National Parks 2008; TSSC 2006a).

Regeneration is being undertaken on Phillip Island to redress the erosion and loss of vegetation (Director of National Parks 2008).The plant nursery on the Island propagates nearly all of the Island's endemic species, and transplants some of them to the national park (Mosley 2001). Erosion is also being reduced by the placement of barriers along watercourses on Phillip Island, which decrease soil loss during heavy rainfall (Mosley 2001).

The park management is currently working to control invasive weeds in the park, including species that have a negative impact on Chaff Tree (Director of National Parks 2008). Weed infestations have been reduced by removal of weeds and replanting with native species (Mosley 2001). Tobacco and Bleeding Heart can be removed by hand or with the use of herbicides (Ziesing 1997).

Principles relevant to the conservation of Chaff Tree are contained in:

  • Norfolk Island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Garden Management Plan 2008-2018 (Director of National Parks 2008).

  • Island on the Brink: a conservation strategy for Norfolk Island (Mosley 2001).

  • Norfolk Island Weed Control Manual: for selected weeds occurring in Norfolk Island National Park (Ziesing 1997).

  • 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:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
    Climate Change and Severe Weather:Droughts:Drought Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Solanum mauritianum (Wild Tobacco Tree, Wild Tobacco Bush, Tobacco Tree) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus rattus (Black Rat, Ship Rat) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
    Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low fecundity, reproductive rate and/or poor recruitment Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
    Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Listing Advice for Achyranthes arborescens - (Chaff Tree, Soft-wood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2003r) [Listing Advice].

    Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) (2008). Climate of Norfolk Island. [Online]. Commonwealth of Australia. Available from: http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/nsw/norfolk/climate.shtml.

    de Lange, P.J, R.O.Gardner, W.R. Sykes, G.M. Crowcroft, E.K. Cameron, F. Stalker, M.L. Christian & J.E. Braggins (2005). Vascular flora of Norfolk Island: some additions and taxonomic notes. New Zealand Journal of Botany. 43:563-596.

    de Lange, P.J. & B.G. Murray (2001). A new Achyranthes (Amaranthaceae) from Phillip Island, Norfolk Island group, South Pacific Ocean. New Zealand Journal of Botany. 39:1-8.

    de Lange, P.J. & B.G.Murray (2003). Chromosome numbers of Norfolk Island endemic plants. Australian Journal of Botany. 51:211-215. [Online]. Available from: http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=BT02101.pdf.

    Director of National Parks (2008). Norfolk Island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Garden Management Plan 2008-2018. [Online]. Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/publications/norfolk/pubs/management-plan.pdf.

    Director of National Parks (DNP) (2010). Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan. [Online]. Canberra, Director of National Parks Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/norfolk-island.html.

    Green, P.S. (1994). Norfolk Island & Lord Howe Island. In: Flora of Australia. 49:1-681. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Publishing Service.

    Hyder Consulting (2008). The Impacts and Management Implications of Climate Change for the Australian Government's Protected Areas. [Online]. Department of Climate Change. Available from: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/impacts/publications/pubs/protected-areas.pdf.

    Mosley, J.G. (2001). Island on the Brink: A Conservation Strategy for Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island Conservation Society, Melbourne, Victoria.

    Sykes, W.R. & I.A.E. Atkinson (1988). Rare and endangered plants of Norfolk Island. New Zealand: Botany Division, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

    Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2003r). Commonwealth Listing Advice for Achyranthes arborescens - (Chaff Tree, Soft-wood). [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/a-arborescens.html.

    Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2006a). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Predation by exotic rats on Australian offshore islands of less than 1000 km2 (100,000 ha). [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/ktp/island-rats.html.

    Ziesing, P.D. (1997). Norfolk Island Weed Control Manual: for selected weeds occurring in Norfolk Island National Park. Environment Australia, Biodiversity Group, Parks Australia (South).

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    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). Achyranthes arborescens in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:55:55 +1000.