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 Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008add) [Conservation Advice].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adq) [Listing 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
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (15/09/2001) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2001e) [Legislative Instrument].
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (62) (14/11/2008) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2008n) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Listing Statement for Philotheca freyciana (Freycinet waxflower) (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2006b) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Philotheca freyciana (Freycinet Waxflower): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014dl) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
Scientific name Philotheca freyciana [68227]
Family Rutaceae:Sapindales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Rozefelds
Infraspecies author  
Reference Rozefelds, A.C. (2001), Muelleria 15: 23, fig. 3 (map)
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: Philotheca freyciana

Common name: Freycinet Waxflower

This species is conventionally accepted (Buchanan 2005).

The Freycinet Waxflower is a small woody shrub to 1 m high. Its leaves are thick, warty and distinctly 'keeled', while its very showy 5-petalled white flowers are set amongst the upper leaves.

The Freycinet Waxflower is hairless but with prominent tuberculate glands on the branches. Leaves are sessile and almost imbricate in appearance, broadly obcordate-obovate and folded through to 90º. They are 9–13 mm long, 8–13 mm wide, with prominent tubercular glands on the lower surface, the margins tinged with red. Flowers are solitary in the axils of the upper leaves; flowers 5-merous; sepals semi-orbicular, about 1 mm long and 1.5 mm wide; petals broadly elliptical, white, pink in bud, 8–10 mm long and 4–5 mm wide; stamens 10. The seeds are black, shiny and about 4 mm long (Rozefelds 2001).

The Freycinet Waxflower is endemic to Tasmania, where it is known from a small area on the Freycinet Peninsula in the State's central east coast; the linear extent of the species is 7.5 km (TSS 2006b). Freycinet Waxflower is found in the Hazards Range in Freycinet National Park.

The extent of occurrence of Freycinet Waxflower is 7 km² (TSS 2006b).

The area of occupancy for this species is less than 0.2 hectares (TSS 2006b).

Given the very limited distribution of the species, the number of locations may be taken to be one.

An ex situ population of Freycinet Waxflower has been established at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart (Papworth et al. 2005).

Numerous targeted surveys have been undertaken for Freycinet Waxflower through areas of potential habitat in the Freycinet Peninsula since the species was first described (Rozefelds 2001). These surveys have included personnel from the Tasmanian Herbarium, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, and the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment's (DPIWE) Biodiversity Conservation Branch (the latter as part of surveys aimed at Phytophthora cinnamomi management) (Schahinger et al. 2003).

Surveys of similar granite habitat to the south of its Freycinet Peninsula occurrences have included Schouten Island and Maria Island (TSS 2006b).

Given the level of past survey efforts, the likelihood of Freycinet Waxflower populations being discovered outside the currently known extent of occurrence is considered to be low. However, the current known population size is likely to be an underestimate due to the limitations involved in surveying for a species that is naturally very patchy in an extremely rugged habitat.

When the species was described in 2001, it was known only from four herbarium specimens and three living plants (Rozefelds 2001).

The total population size is now estimated to be 80–90 mature individuals, all within Freycinet National Park (TSS 2006b), though this may well be as high as 200 (Schahinger 2005, pers. comm.).

Freycinet Waxflower is considered to occur in two subpopulations. One is in an area of the Freycinet Peninsula known as The Hazards (Table 1). The species has an extremely patchy occurrence through The Hazards, being spread over a linear distance of 4.4 km. About 80–90 mature plants have been recorded to date, with a concentration of 50–60 plants spread over a 20 m by 30 m area in the western Hazards (TSS 2006b). Current records for the species are from Mt Amos, Mt Mayson, Mt Parsons and Mt Dove in the Hazards Range, Freycinet National Park (Papworth et al. 2005). The other subpopulation, at Cape Tourville, consists of a solitary plant (Table 1). This subpopulation is at least 3.5 km distant from the subpopulation at the Hazards.

A woody species such as Freycinet Waxflower might be expected to have a lifespan in the order of 10–25 years, though any estimate of generation length remains speculative (Schahinger 2005, pers. comm).

TABLE 1. Freycinet Waxflower in Tasmania.

   Subpopulation               Tenure   Year Last   

    Number of   
  Mature Plants  
1 The Hazards    Freycinet National Park          2003

      < 0.5        80-90 AC
2 Cape Tourville    Freycinet National Park          2001
      0.0001         1 AC

Data source: Threatened Species Section, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Hobart (AC represents an absolute count).

All known Freycinet Waxflower plants occur within the Freycinet National Park. Management for the species is essentially passive.

Freycinet Waxflower occurs exclusively on Devonian granite, growing either in rock crevices or shallow soils in runnels in the massive monoliths that dominate the southern end of the Freycinet Peninsula. The species grows from close to sea level to 440 m above sea level, while the annual rainfall of the area is about 650–700 mm (TSS 2006b).

This species occurs in skeletal sandy soils derived from granite rock where it grows in association with Eucalyptus amygdalina, E. tenuiramis, Leptospermum grandiflorum and Hakea megadenia (Rozefelds 2001). Co-occurring threatened species include the Critically Endangered EPBC-listed Bearded Heath (Epacris barbata).

Buds are formed prior to the onset of winter (Rozefelds 2001). Flowers have been observed in autumn (April–May), and also in spring and early summer (September–December) (TSS 2006b). The flowers are visited by generalist pollinators such as beetles and small flies (Papworth et al. 2005).

Surveys should be undertaken during dry conditions in the species' peak flowering period, September to December; wet conditions should be avoided to minimise the risk of spreading Phytophthora cinnamomi. Freycinet Waxflower may be distinguished from the allied species Philotheca virgata by floral and leaf characters: Freycinet Waxflower has flowers that are 5-merous and leaves that are prominently 'keeled', whereas P. virgata has flowers that are 4-merous and leaves that are relatively thin and flat (Curtis & Morris 1975; Rozefelds 2001).

Threats to Freycinet Waxflower include:

  • Infection by the introduced soil-borne plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi (known threat in region but impact suspected)
  • Over-frequent fire (suspected impact)
  • Drought stress and browsing by native animals (known to occur)
  • Possible lack of fecundity (potential threat)
  • Collection by tourists and/or native plant enthusiasts (potential threat).

    Scattered infestations of Phytophthora cinnamomi occur throughout the species' habitat, with mortality observed in species such as the EPBC-listed shrub Epacris barbata (Schahinger et al. 2003). Infestations typically occur in runnels between granite boulders where small pockets of soil have accumulated, and may be spread further by flowing water or by humans and native animals inadvertently moving infected soil. The rocky nature of the plant's preferred habitat does provide some protection, though the high levels of bushwalking in the Hazards means that the threat of further Phytophthora spread is high. Several members of the family Rutaceae in Tasmania are known to be susceptible to P. cinnamomi (Podger et al. 1990), though at this stage the status of Freycinet Waxflower remains unknown.

    Over-frequent burning, due largely to acts of arson or accident, also poses a threat to the long-term survival of Freycinet Waxflower. The entire Hazards area was burnt in February 1980 as a result of an escaped fire, with an earlier fire in the summer of 1961–62 due to a campfire escape (Parks and Wildlife Service 1995, 2002). At least some plants occurring in fire-protected niches are likely to have provided a seed source for recolonisation. Field observations indicate that the species may resprout following fire, though there is no information on the plant's specific response to the intensity or timing of fire, and a precautionary response needs to be adopted pending the results of monitoring.

    Many of the plants observed in the field, particularly those growing from crevices in the granite slabs, are of weak stature, and show signs of drought stress and browsing by native animals (TSS 2004). These observations suggest that at least some plants are at risk from 'natural' causes, putting the species at risk of local extinction.

    The life history of Freycinet Waxflower is poorly understood at present, being limited by a lack of information on pollination, seed dispersal and germination cues.

    Freycinet Waxflower is a highly attractive plant when in full bloom, and at least some plants close to walking tracks are at risk from collection by native plant enthusiasts and/or curious tourists.

  • Minister's reason for recovery plan decision

    A number of key ongoing threats can be better managed with a recovery plan in place.

    The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008add) recommend the following local and regional priority recovery and threat abatement actions:

  • Design and implement a monitoring program to identify any changes in threats and numbers of individuals.
  • Develop and implement a suitable fire management strategy for the Freycinet Waxflower.
  • Develop and implement suitable hygiene protocols to protect known sites from outbreaks of dieback caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi.
  • Undertake survey work in suitable habitat and potential habitat to locate any additional populations.

    Specific recovery objectives identified for Freycinet Waxflower in the Greater Freycinet Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (TSS 2004) are to:

  • Maintain or improve habitat quality in Freycinet National Park.
  • Determine the size and condition of stand(s) in Freycinet National Park.
  • Better understand the species' reproductive capacity, as well as its regenerative capacities following major disturbance.
  • Raise public awareness of the risk posed by Phytophthora cinnamomi to Freycinet Waxflower in Freycinet National Park.
  • Develop mechanisms to manage populations in the long term.

    Phytophthora management
    A Phytopthora management zone that encompasses some of the known Freycinet Waxflower plants has been identified within Freycinet National Park (Schahinger et al. 2003). Any planned development or activity in the 444 ha area — which takes in the eastern Hazards — requires the submission of a formal project proposal, and must be endorsed by DPIWE's Biodiversity Conservation Branch. Specific management prescriptions may be prescribed depending on the nature of the proposed activity. A 'dry' washdown station has been installed at the Sleepy Bay end of the Hazards to reduce the risk of further disease spread by bushwalkers. Further research is required to determine the susceptibility of Freycinet Waxflower to Phytophthora cinnamomi.

    An interpretation panel focusing on Phytophthora in Freycinet National Park is to be installed by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, while a pamphlet dealing with Phytophthora issues is available to Park visitors at the Freycinet visitor centre.

    Fire management
    Freycinet National Park is subject to a fire management plan that aims to maintain levels of biodiversity and foster the long-term survival of threatened species (Parks and Wildlife Service 2002). No burns are planned for areas that support Freycinet Waxflower during the period of the fire plan, 2002–2012. DPIWE personnel will conduct monitoring of the species' response to fire as the opportunities arise.

    Monitoring and ecology
    The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) and the Tasmanian Herbarium initiated a project in 2001 to investigate the species' life history attributes. Part of the Hazards population has been subsequently monitored for the survival and growth of individual plants, as well as their phenology, breeding systems, fruit production, seed set and seed dormancy. Trials have also been conducted to establish an effective technique to cultivate Freycinet Waxflower. An ex situ living plant collection is to be established by the RTBG that may allow for suitable stock of the plant to be available for horticultural purposes.

    Extension surveys
    Surveys of potential habitat on Schouten Island and Maria Island to the south of the Freycinet Peninsula failed to find any additional populations of the Freycinet Waxflower (Papworth et al. 2005). Detailed surveys of some areas on Freycinet Peninsula between the two known subpopulations are yet to be undertaken (TSS 2004).

  • A study of Freycinet Waxflower was begun in 2002. This project aimed to improve knowledge of the species' distribution, commence life history studies to better understand the ecology of the species, and attempt to propagate the species through a variety of techniques with a view to making the species available for horticulture (Papworth et al. 2005).

    The species was not found outside the National Park.

    Limited life history data showed that the Freycinet Waxflower is likely to be slow growing in the wild. Generalist pollinators were observed visiting the flowers.

    Vegetative propagation was found to be suitable for the ex situ management of the species, but seed propagation has had limited success, with the main problem being the difficulty in obtaining enough material. Tissue culture had some success, but root development was not achieved. The horticultural potential of the Freycinet Waxflower is dependent on improved propagation techniques.

    Freycinet Waxflower was included in the (Draft) Greater Freycinet Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (TSS 2004).

    Management guidelines for controlling the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi in Tasmania can be found in Conservation of Tasmanian Plant Species and Communities Threatened by Phytophthora cinnamomi: Strategic Regional Plan for Tasmania (Schahinger et al. 2003). National guidelines can be found in the Threat Abatement Plan for Dieback Caused by the Root-Rot Fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi (EA, 2001l).

    The Freycinet National Park Management Plan (Parks and Wildlife Service 2000) and the Freycinet Reserves Fire Management Plan (Parks and Wildlife Service 2002) outline policies and guidelines beneficial to Freycinet Waxflower.

    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
    Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Recreational harvest Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008add) [Conservation Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adq) [Listing Advice].
    Climate Change and Severe Weather:Droughts:Drought Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008add) [Conservation Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adq) [Listing Advice].
    Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Freycinet Waxflower) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2001ai) [Listing Advice].
    Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adq) [Listing Advice].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Vegetation and habitat loss caused by dieback Phytophthora cinnamomi Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Freycinet Waxflower) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2001ai) [Listing Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adq) [Listing Advice].
    Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Freycinet Waxflower) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2001ai) [Listing Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adq) [Listing Advice].
    Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Philotheca in Tasmania. Mulleria. 15:19-26. (Rozefelds, A.C., 2001) [Journal].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Freycinet Waxflower) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2001ai) [Listing Advice].
    Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads Commonwealth Listing Advice on Philotheca freyciana (Freycinet Waxflower) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2001ai) [Listing Advice].

    Buchanan, A.M. (2005). A Census of the Vascular Plants of Tasmania & Index to the Students Flora of Tasmania. Fourth Edition. Tasmanian Herbarium Occasional Publication No. 7. Hobart, Tasmania: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

    Curtis, W.M. & D.I. Morris (1975). The Student's Flora of Tasmania. Part 1 (Second Edition). Hobart: Government Printer.

    Environment Australia (EA) (2001m). Threat Abatement Plan for Dieback Caused by the Root-rot Fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi. [Online]. Available from:

    Papworth, N., A. MacFadyen, A. Gray, A. Koutoulis, A. Price & A. Rozefelds (2005). The horticultural potential of an endangered species, the Freycinet Wax Flower (Philotheca freyciana) from eastern Tasmania. Australian Flora Foundation.

    Parks and Wildlife Service (1995). Freycinet National Park Management Plan. Department of Environment and Land Management, Hobart.

    Parks and Wildlife Service (2000). Freycinet National Park, Wye River State Reserve Management Plan. Department of Environment and Land Management, Hobart.

    Parks and Wildlife Service (2002). Freycinet Reserves Fire Management Plan. Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Hobart.

    Podger, F., C. Palzer & T. Wardlaw (1990). A guide to the Tasmanian distribution of Phytophthora cinnamomi and its effects on native vegetation. Tasforests. 2:13-20.

    Rozefelds, A.C. (2001). Philotheca in Tasmania. Mulleria. 15:19-26.

    Schahinger R. (2005). Personal communication.

    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.

    Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008add). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Philotheca freyciana. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from:

    Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2004). Draft Greater Freycinet Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan 2004-2008. Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Hobart.

    Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006b). Listing Statement for Philotheca freyciana (Freycinet waxflower). [Online]. Tasmania, Department of Primary Industries and Water. Available from:$FILE/Philotheca%20freyciana%20LS.pdf.

    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). Philotheca freyciana in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Thu, 18 Sep 2014 04:33:22 +1000.