North East wattle a beauty rich and very rare

Ranger Kelton Goyne is delighted with his find of a rare wattle, found for the first time in Victoria.
Ranger Kelton Goyne is delighted with his find of a rare wattle, found for the first time in Victoria.

GEOLOGY could be the key to survival for a wattle species found growing in the North East.

Acacia linearifolia has been found for the first time in the Victorian wild, growing on a patch of mudstone in Mount Lawson State Park.

Parks Victoria ranger Kelton Goyne stumbled across six of the wattle trees in March when he was surveying the park for a future burnoff.

“I just knew it was different,” he said.

“It’s exciting to find new plant species for the list in the park.”

It is believed the species had been more wide spread at some stage.

Those found were on an isolated, rarely visited patch of land.

The closest site where the species was known to grow in the wild is The Rock, about 30 kilometres from Wagga.

That area has similar geology to the North East site.

Australia has almost 1000 wattle species and Mr Goyne said what set this one apart was its distinctive long, straight leaves and rough bark.

The colour of the foliage is also different to that of more familiar wattles such as Cootamundra or silver wattle.

Mr Goyne said the 20-metre high trees had not been known to exist as far south as the North East and he was concerned they would not survive in the area.

“The trees are quite mature — 20 to 30 years — so they are close to the end of their life span,” he said.

“They can reproduce but they need some sort of disturbance like fire for that to happen.

“We have to be very careful about how we conduct this burn.”

The burn, due to take place next autumn, is being carefully planned to ensure that the trees survive.

“We will probably have to isolate some from the burn and experiment with some in the burn to see how they respond,” Mr Goyne said.

It is not the first time rare flora has been found in the Upper Murray — fan grevillea, broad-leaf hop-bush and the pine mountain grevillea have been found on Pine Mountain in recent years.

Mr Goyne said the Upper Murray was a fine place for plants to evolve with many “islands” surrounded by farms that run up to sub-alpine levels.

“You tend to get plants that are southern extensions of NSW plants or isolated plant communities that have grown into their own species,” he said.

The discovery comes in the lead-up to Wattle Day on Monday.