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 Persoonia pauciflora
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Persoonia pauciflora (North Rothbury Persoonia) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2005aw) [Listing Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan North Rothbury Persoonia (Persoonia pauciflora) (NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW OEH), 2012n) [Recovery Plan] as Persoonia pauciflora.
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 (17/06/2005) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005d) [Legislative Instrument] as Persoonia pauciflora.
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:North Rothbury Persoonia - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005it) [Internet].
NSW:Persoonia pauciflora Threatened Species Information (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 1999bn) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines - Persoonia pauciflora (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2000ak) [Internet].
NSW:Persoonia pauciflora (a spreading shrub) - endangered species listing (NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC), 1999a) [Report].
NSW:North Rothbury Persoonia Persoonia pauciflora - critically endangered species (NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC), 2007) [Report].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Critically Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list) as Persoonia pauciflora
Scientific name Persoonia pauciflora [67214]
Family Proteaceae:Proteales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Weston
Infraspecies author  
Reference Telopea 8(2): 159, figs 1, 2 (1999).
Other names Persoonia sp. North Rothbury [66035]
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: Persoonia pauciflora

Common name: North Rothbury Persoonia

The North Rothbury Persoonia was discovered in 1997 and was confirmed as a new species in 1999 (CHAH 2010; Weston 1999).

The North Rothbury Persoonia is a small spreading shrub that grows to 0.1–1.4 metres high and 0.4–1.6 metres wide with green, soft needle-like leaves which are three to four centimetres long (NSW NPWS 1999bn). This species is quite visible in the landscape due to its luminescent green colour and produces small yellow flowers that occur on the plant between the leaf and plant stem (NSW NPSW 1999bn). This species produces fruit which looks like a fleshy green berry and contains a seed the size of a coffee bean (Patrick 2006a).

The North Rothbury Persoonia has a very restricted distribution and is found only in an area to the south of the North Rothbury township in the Hunter region of NSW. Based upon current survey information, 45% of North Rothbury Persoonia individuals occur along road verges and undeveloped transport routes owned by the Cessnock City Council, and 55% occur on private property (Patrick 2006a).

The North Rothbury Persoonia has an extent of occurrence of 4.5 km² (TSSC 2005aw) and an area of occupancy of less than 0.5 km² (Patrick 2006a). This estimate is based on targeted surveys between 1997–2006 in Cessnock City Council Local Government Area (LGA), Maitland City Council LGA and Singleton City Council LGA. Surveying undertaken in 1999 covered a radius of 5 km from the North Rothbury township (Patrick 1999). All plants that were found via this survey occurred within 2.5 km of the type specimen (the first specimen discovered), which was found at the junction of Tuckers Lane and Hanwood Road. Surveying in 2000 covered an area of 250 km² between Cessnock, Kurri Kurri and North Rothbury and failed to find any new individuals (Patrick 2000). It has been suggested that a potential 42 km² could have supported the species in the past (Patrick 2000, 2006a).

The North Rothbury Persoonia occurs at three locations which comprise approximately 90% of the total number of individuals (Patrick 2001). The remainder of the population occurs as scattered individuals or in small isolated groups. The distance between each small population is between 450 and 750 metres. The approximate number of mature individuals in each subpopulation is between 15 and 50 (TSSC 2005aw).

Published accounts of surveys include Patrick (1999, 2000, 2001, 2006a).

Surveying of the North Rothbury Persoonia between July to August 2006 confirmed a total of 348 individual adult plants and 107 immature individuals (plants under two years of age) (Patrick 2006a). Changes in abundance may be caused by weather conditions (NSW DECCW 2005it).

The following table presents abundance estimates over time for the North Rothbury Persoonia:

Year Number of estimated mature individuals Source
June 2006 348 mature individuals and 107 juveniles Patrick (2006a)
March 2006 631 mature individuals Patrick (2006a)
2003 450 mature individuals Patrick (2006a)
2002 80–125 mature individuals Patrick (2003)
2001 350 mature individuals Patrick (2000, 2001)
2000 220–240 mature individuals Patrick (2000)
1999 220 individuals Patrick (1999)

The North Rothbury Persoonia occurs in dry open-forest or woodland habitats, generally with a grassy understorey. The majority of the population is known to occur on silty sandstone soils derived from the geological Farley Formation (Patrick 1999, 2006a).

The North Rothbury Persoonia is found in dry open forest or woodland vegetation communities dominated by Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata), Broad-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus fibrosa) and/or Narrow-leaved Ironbark (E. crebra). The species generally occurs in areas with a moderate to sparse shrub layer and grassy understorey (Patrick 1999). The species appears to prefer a southerly/easterly aspect and is commonly found on undulating slopes. It is found mostly in moderately deep soils and occasionally in lateritic soils (Patrick 2006a).

The North Rothbury Persoonia has an estimated life span of 7–12 years (Patrick 2006a). The species reaches reproductive maturity at two to three years of age. Observations suggest that many individuals do not survive past two years of age (Patrick 2006b pers. comm.). Immature plants (generally defined as less than two years of age) can be distinguished from mature plants by their moderately hairy leaves (NSW NPSW 1999bn).

The North Rothbury Persoonia may hybridise with the Narrow-leaved Geebung (Persoonia linearis), and up to 5% of the total population may be hybrids (Patrick 2006a). In general, there is a poor understanding of the breeding system and germination requirements for this species (NSW NPSW 1999bn). It has been suggested that the primary pollinators for Persoonia species are native bees (Bernhardt & Weston 1999).

The North Rothbury Persoonia is known to persist in the seed bank for a number of years (Patrick 2006 pers. comm.). The specific triggers for germination are unknown, however, research suggests that many Persoonia spp. require disturbance (e.g. fire) for germination to occur (Gill 1975 cited in Bauer et al. 2004; NSW NPSW 2000ak). Also Persoonia spp. seeds may require many years in leaf litter for a bacteria or a fungus to break down the hard coating (Salkin 1984). Too frequent disturbance willl cause localised extinction if plants do not reach maturity (Patrick 2006a).

Key threats to the North Rothbury Persoonia include habitat loss primarily for urban development and too frequent disturbance events such as grazing, slashing, inappropriate fire regimes and road maintenancence (Patrick 1999; Weston 1999). The species is highly susceptible to frequent disturbance, particularly if the disturbance interrupts the maturation of individual plants before they are able to successfully replenish the seed bank. Other threats include the disturbance of plants along road verges from vehicles, unrestricted access for recreational activities such as trail-bike riding and horse riding, and habitat degradation from weed invasion, and fertiliser and herbicide use.

Habitat loss and fragmentation

The Hunter region, especially around North Rothbury, is under high rural and residential development pressure. Many of these areas are scheduled for subdivision into smaller rural residential lots. Further habitat fragmentation could impact on seed dispersal and lead to a loss in the genetic diversity of the species, and could reduce the chances of, or even prevent, recolonisation of the species (NSW DECCW 2005it).

Too frequent disturbance

Slashing, mowing and too frequent grazing can affect the size, age structure and presence of the North Rothbury Persoonia population (Patrick 1999). Continuous disturbance may prevent the regeneration of this species as the individuals are unlikely to reach reproductive maturity to replenish the seed bank on the site. Observations suggest that after a second slashing event in a short period, a North Rothbury Persoonia individual will usually die (Patrick 2006a).

Road maintenance

Habitat occurring along road verges can be impacted by roadside maintenance work, road construction or by vehicles and traffic through the area. Some slashing for fire hazard reduction may occur along these road verges, which may also impact upon the species (Patrick 2006a).


The North Rothbury Persoonia is likely to be a fire obligate seeder (as are most other Persoonia spp.), meaning that the individual plants are destroyed by fire (Patrick 2006a). A fire interval of five to eight years has been suggested (NSW NPWS 2000ak).

The following management actions have been identified (NSW DECCW 2005it; TSSC 2005ax):

  • Reinstate an appropriate fire regime which protects the species from frequent fire.
  • Fence off areas supporting the species to preclude stock.
  • Protect and actively manage populations through covenants and the preparation/implementation of site-specific vegetation management plans.
  • Improve vegetative connectivity between and within sub-populations through revegetation/regeneration program.
  • Monitor population health and numbers for any changes.
  • Map the extent of the species and avoid slashing in known or potential habitat.
  • Investigate possible techniques for propagating the species and establishing additional populations in suitable locations.

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
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Persoonia pauciflora (North Rothbury Persoonia) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2005aw) [Listing Advice].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat clearance for rural, peri-urban and urban development Commonwealth Listing Advice on Persoonia pauciflora (North Rothbury Persoonia) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2005aw) [Listing Advice].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Species threats data recorded on the SPRAT database between 1999-2002 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012i) [Database].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Persoonia pauciflora (North Rothbury Persoonia) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2005aw) [Listing Advice].

Bauer, L.M., M.E. Johnston & R.R. Williams (2004). Fruit processing, seed viability and dormancy mechanisms of Persoonia sericea A. Cunn. ex R. Br. and P. virgata R. Br. (Proteaceae). [Online]. Available from:

Bernhardt, P. & P.H. Weston (1996). The pollination ecology of Persoonia in eastern Australia. Telopea. 6(4):775-804.

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2010). Australian Plant Census. [Online]. Australian National Herbarium, Australian National Botanic Gardens and Australian Biological Resources Study . Available from:

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW) (2005it). North Rothbury Persoonia - profile. [Online]. Available from:

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (1999bn). Persoonia pauciflora Threatened Species Information. [Online]. Available from:

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2000ak). Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines - Persoonia pauciflora. [Online]. Available from:

Patrick, G. (1999). Initial flora survey to sample totential habitat: abundance and distribution of the new plant species Persoonia "North Rothbury". Hurstville: NSW NPWS.

Patrick, G. (2000). Survey for the threatened plant species Persoonia pauciflora within the northern and central portions of Cessnock City Council area. Unpublished report, NSW NPWS, Hurstville.

Patrick, G. (2001). Brief overview on the expansion of populations of the rare plant, Persoonia pauciflora, in the North Rothbury area. Unpublished report, NSW NPWS, Hurstville.

Patrick, G. (2003). Persoonia pauciflora update. Supplied to NSW NPSW.

Patrick, G. (2006a). Collation of information on the status of endangered species Persoonia pauciflora, in the Lower Hunter Valley of NSW. Report to the Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW).

Patrick, G. (2006b). Personal communication.

Salkin, A. (1984). Growing plants from seed - viability and dormancy. [Online]. Australian Plants Online. Available from:

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2005aw). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Persoonia pauciflora (North Rothbury Persoonia). [Online]. Available from:

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2005ax). NON-APPROVED Conservation Advice on Persoonia pauciflora (North Rothbury Persoonia). [Online]. Available from:

Weston, P.H. (1999). Persoonia pauciflora (Proteaceae), a new species from the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Telopea. 8(2).

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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). Persoonia pauciflora in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Thu, 18 Sep 2014 20:44:24 +1000.