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 Endangered
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 Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery 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
NSW:Review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act Flora Schedules: Recommendations to the Scientific Committee: Final Summary Report December 2002 (Hogbin, P., 2002) [Report].
NSW:Threatened Species Information: Epacris hamiltonii (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2002x) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
Scientific name Epacris hamiltonii [8700]
Family Epacridaceae:Ericales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Maiden & E.Betche
Infraspecies author  
Reference Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 25: 102 (8 Aug. 1900).
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: Epacris hamiltonii

Epacris hamiltonii is a shrub growing to 1 m high, with white tubular flowers. The leaves grow to 1 cm long and are covered with silky hairs on both sides, giving them a a soft grey/green appearance (NSW NPWS 2002x). The species is an attractive plant which could be of horticultural value (NSW NPWS 2001h).

Epacris hamiltonii is endemic to the upper Blue Mountains area, near Blackheath, NSW. Until 1994, it was known from only one population of 50 adult plants and a few seedlings, growing in an area of 10 m x 80 m (Cohn 1993a). Since then, the range has been extended, with the species now known to occur at 72 sites within three creek catchments (Greaves Creek, Popes Glen/Govetts Creeks and Katoomba Creek). These creeks are all located on the northern side of the escarpment and flow into the Grose Valley. Sites are confined to a radius of approximately 5 km and most are within the Blue Mountains National Park. A small number of populations are on Blue Mountains City Council land and freehold land (NSW NPWS 2001h; K. Tuckey 2003, pers. comm.).

Cultivation of clones at Mt Tomah and Mt Annan Botanic Gardens, NSW, has been successful, with the plants propagating easily from both seeds and cuttings (NSW NPWS 2001h). The species is also in cultivation at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, ACT and Adelaide Botanic Gardens, South Australia (CHABG 1994).

Although it is difficult to identify and count individuals of this species, due to its habit of forming mats and its high degree of clonality, the total population has been estimated as 4000 adult plants at 72 sites (NSW NPWS 2001h).

The majority of the populations of Epacris hamiltonii (48 sites) occur within the Blue Mountains National Park (NSW NPWS 2001h). Population sizes vary from a few isolated stems to hundreds of stems over an area of several square metres (NSW NPWS 2002x).

Epacris hamiltonii has specific habitat requirements, being found under Narrabeen Sandstone cliff overhangs, often alongside perennial creeks and below hanging swamps (NSW NPWS 2001h). It grows adjacent to warm temperate rainforest, in protected shady areas at altitudes between 810 and 940 m above sea level (Cohn 1993a; Harden 1992; NSW NPWS 2001h). Populations may also occur beside small creek lines which are vegetated with moist gully forest species such as Black Wattle (Callicoma serratifolia), Yellow Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras), and Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum) (NSW NPWS 2001h).The distribution of this species appears to be limited to areas with a perennial or virtually perennial source of water (in particular, cliff seepages) (NSW NPWS 2001h).

The favoured substrates for E. hamiltonii are mosses or King Fern (Todea barbara) root bole bases. These bases vary in thickness from a few centimetres up to approximately 80 cm. The substrate generally has a spongy or peat-like consistency and a high moisture content (NSW NPWS 2001h).

Plants found growing in association with Epacris hamiltonii include the King Fern (Todea barbara), the Rough Tree Fern (Cyathea australis) and the Coral Fern (Gleichenia rupestris). Other plants of conservation significance sharing this habitat include Adenochilus nortonii (an orchid), Almaleea incurvata, Acacia ptychoclada (a wattle), Celmisia longifolia, Olearia quercifolia and Rock Sprengelia (Sprengelia monticola). Sundews (Drosera binata) are also common on the cliff face (NSW NPWS 2001h).

Establishment and growth trials at Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens found that seedlings grown in soil from an E. hamiltonii site at Neates Glen exhibit greater growth rates than seedlings grown in other soil media (Turton et al. 1997). This suggests that mycorrhizal fungi in the soil may be influencing factors in the growth of this species (NSW NPWS 2001h).

Epacris hamiltonii usually flowers between September and December, but flowers have also been recorded in July (Harden 1992; NSW NPWS 2001h). European Honeybees (Apis mellifera) and Eastern Spinebill Honeyeaters (Acanthorynchus tenuirostris) have been observed visiting flowers and are potential pollinators (NSW NPWS 2001h).

The species flowers and produces seed annually. Any failure of flowers to develop fruit is likely to be attributable to damage caused to the flowers rather than a lack of pollination (Turton et al. 1996). Fruits mature in January and are retained on the plant into the following season after dehiscing. The seed is very fine and dustlike (NSW NPWS 2001h).

Visual checks of seed in 1994 and 1995 revealed that 22% of seeds were either aborted or desiccated. Pre-dispersal predation was not observed in any capsule. Seed longevity is greater than three years (Turton et al. 1997). The time taken for seedlings to become reproductively mature is unknown (Turton & Matthes 1999).

Epacris hamiltonii reproduces via root suckers, basal sprouts and seeds stored in the soil. Populations of E. hamiltonii are dense, often having a matted appearance, due to the clonal tendencies of the species. The extent of this clonality is unknown, as is the ability of individual stems to function independently of the parent stem (NSW NPWS 2001h).

Studies indicate that there is a seed dormancy effect and that heat stimulates germination (Turton et al. 1997). Older seeds break dormancy at lower temperatures, possibly due to breakdown of the seed coat over time and their deeper position in the soil profile (NSW NPWS 2001h).

The species has developed the following strategies to cope with individual fire events (NSW NPWS 2001h):

  • Adult plants killed by fire are capable of re-sprouting from rootstock and basal suckers.
  • The re-sprouting plants contribute to the seedbank within four years of a fire event.
  • A viable seed store is maintained. The seed has a positive heat response (as would be experienced in a fire) which promotes prolific germination.

    As soil heating during a fire event varies with area as well as depth, it is unlikely that the entire seed bank would be depleted after a single fire. The time taken for seedlings to develop rootstocks capable of re-sprouting after fire is unknown (Auld & O'Connell 1991).

  • The main threats to Epacris hamiltonii are altered moisture regimes, increased nutrient levels, weed invasion, unrestricted access to habitat and inappropriate fire regimes (NSW NPWS 2001h).

    People straying from nearby walking tracks could cause inadvertent damage by breaking the brittle stems of the species, or could exacerbate erosion to the soils on the steep slope. Any reduction in runoff may be detrimental, and the addition of any pollutants, such as sewage or storm water runoff may favour the growth of other more competitive species, especially weeds (Cohn 1993a). Groundwater aquifer extraction has the potential to affect the species and its habitat by changing the moisture regime (NSW NPWS 2001h).

    Weeds such as Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius), Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) and Ivy (Hedera helix) thrive in the moist creeklines which E. hamiltonii favours (NSW NPWS 2001h).

    Fire regimes would be detrimental if they do not allow sufficient time for replacement plants to reach either sexual maturity or to develop rootstock capable of re-sprouting after a fire (NSW NPWS 2001h).

    A national recovery plan for the species was prepared in 1993. Recovery actions from this plan undertaken from 1994 to 1999 are as follows (NSW NPWS 2001h):

  • monitoring of selected populations of E. hamiltonii to determine flowering and fruiting status of plants, and tagging plants at some new populations
  • bagging and collecting seed from selected populations of E. hamiltonii
  • laboratory trials investigating seed viability and germination
  • liaising with the Botanic Gardens and documenting ex situ cultivation
  • fencing works to restrict public access to the site
  • surveys of suitable habitat in the upper Blue Mountains to determine the presence of E. hamiltonii
  • preparation of a pamphlet to distribute to landholders in catchment areas adjacent to E. hamiltonii
  • preparation of an interim fire management plan for E. hamiltonii and its habitat.

    The following recovery actions are recommended in the current national Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW NPWS 2001h).

    Protect and maintain populations of E. hamiltonii by the implementation of in situ habitat conservation methods
    Recovery teams will conduct monitoring of populations at known sites to identify any signs of habitat degradation. A fire management plan should be developed, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, with populations of E. hamiltonii subject to 15–20 year planned fire intervals. The NSW NPWS will liaise with private landholders and seek management options (such as voluntary conservation agreements) where appropriate.

    Enhance management of E. hamiltonii and its habitat based on an increased understanding of key aspects of the biology and ecology of the taxon
    Research priorities as defined in the recovery plan include investigations into seedling survivorship and establishment, and length of time for seedlings to mature and rootstock to become fire resistant. This information will be used in the development of an appropriate fire regime for the species. Further research fields include species fecundity, plant age at first flowering and fruiting, time needed to sufficiently replenish the seed bank (soil and canopy), effects of fire on the species, and optimum fire regime for the species.

    Increase knowledge of the distribution of E. hamiltonii and undertake an assessment of new populations
    Surveys will be undertaken in suitable potential habitat to try to find additional populations of the species. Suitable areas include Popes Glen Creek and Govetts Creek and gullies on the southern escarpment in the Blackheath area. The Katoomba Creek survey initiated by Turton and colleagues (1997) should also be completed.

    Raise awareness in the community about E. hamiltonii
    Community awareness of E. hamiltonii will be promoted through educational material and liaison with private landholders who have E. hamiltonii on or adjacent to their properties.

    A species profile, including conservation status and management issues affecting E. hamiltonii (NSW NPWS 2002x), will be distributed to private landholders and displayed on the NPWS Internet homepage.

    Carry out a re-evaluation of the conservation status of E. hamiltonii
    The conservation status of E. hamiltonii will be reassessed once the success of habitat management and ongoing monitoring actions have been evaluated and biological and ecological studies and additional surveys have been completed.

  • 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
    Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat modification with associated erosion Species threats data recorded on the SPRAT database between 1999-2002 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012i) [Database].
    Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Disturbance, especially from human recreational activities and development Species threats data recorded on the SPRAT database between 1999-2002 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012i) [Database].
    Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Cytisus scoparius (Broom, English Broom, Scotch Broom, Common Broom, Scottish Broom, Spanish Broom) Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Rubus fruticosus aggregate (Blackberry, European Blackberry) Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Species threats data recorded on the SPRAT database between 1999-2002 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012i) [Database].
    Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery Plan].
    Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery Plan].
    Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Changes in hydrology including habitat drainage Species threats data recorded on the SPRAT database between 1999-2002 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012i) [Database].
    Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Extraction of ground water Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery Plan].
    Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Species threats data recorded on the SPRAT database between 1999-2002 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012i) [Database].
    Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery Plan].
    Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001h) [Recovery Plan].

    Auld, T.D. & M.A. O'Connell (1991). Predicting patterns of Post-fire germination in 35 eastern Australian Fabaceae. Australian Journal of Ecology. 16:53-70.

    Cohn, J. (1993a). Conservation Status Statement and Recovery Plans for Epacris hamiltonii. Hurstville: NSW NPWS.

    Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens (CHABG) (1994). Census of plants in botanic gardens. [Online]. Canberra: Australian National Botanic Gardens. Available from: http://www.anbg.gov.au/chabg/census/census.html.

    Harden, G.J. (Ed.) (1992). Flora of New South Wales Volume 3. Kensington, NSW: University of NSW Press.

    NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2001h). Epacris hamiltonii Recovery Plan. [Online]. NSW NPWS. Hurstville: NSW NPWS. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/e-hamiltonii/index.html.

    NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2002x). Threatened Species Information: Epacris hamiltonii.

    Tuckey, K. (2003). Personal communication.

    Turton, M & Matthes M. (1999). Epacris hamiltonii Annual Report to Environment Australia for 1997/1998.

    Turton, M. Matthes, M. and Nash, S. (1996). Epacris hamiltonii Species Recovery Plan. Prepared for Australian Nature Conservation Agency.

    Turton, M., Correy, B., Matthes, M. and Nash, S. (1997). Epacris hamiltonii Species recovery Plan. Final report for 1996/1997. Prepared for Environment Australia.

    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). Epacris hamiltonii in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:09:09 +1000.