Rare plants in rare places

Conservation ecologist Matt Taylor describes the benefits of searching out those inaccessible, tucked away places.

Rare plants tend to hang out in rare places…

In late November I was completing a vegetation survey and eagle nest check on a New Leaf property on the slopes of Mt Barrow near Launceston for a conservation covenant. I had scrub bashed down a steep rocky slope through tall old growth forest and finally located the nest. The nest was active and I watched through my binoculars a parent feeding its fluffy white chick – magic!

With my mission accomplished I had two choices: to haul my way back up the hill to the car, or to continue clambering down the slope and see what was in the gully at the bottom. Gullies are always interesting places and my curiosity got the better of me.

At the bottom it was cool, dark, wet and ferny. I filled up my water bottle and climbed up the other side. As I emerged into dryer, more open forest on the other side I spotted an unmistakable plant – the beautiful and threatened roundleaf mint bush (Prostanthera rotundifolia) covered in its distinctive purple flowers. I looked around and saw it was scattered all along the lower slopes above the gully.

This is an exciting find, a long way from the nearest recorded population, and now protected along with the neighboring eagles.

Roundleaf mint bush photo: Matt Taylor