Unlocking the rich diversity of Sandsheet Heath

Some of the Territory’s most passionate and accomplished scientists have collaborated on a brand new field guide that will be launched at Humpty Doo on Sunday morning.

A field guide to plants of Darwin Sandsheet Heath is the first comprehensive field guide to showcase the numerous plants that call the sandsheet home.

Sandsheet heath is a key habitat within the Howard Sand Plains Site of Conservation Significance which is recognised as internationally significant due to the concentration of threatened plant and animal species.

Threatened species that call sandsheet heath home include the carnivorous bladderwort Utricularia dunstaniae and Howard toadlet.

Information and photographs collected over more than two decades by members of the Top End Native Plant Society and staff at the NT Herbarium forms the basis of the field guide.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ecologist, Dr David Liddle, co-authored the field guide with colleagues Ben Stuckey, Ian Cowie and Sarah Hirst.

The extensive experience of the authors has been distilled into key characteristics that can be used to identify plants of the sandsheet heath.

“The guide will unlock the rich diversity of the sandsheet heath, making the identification of plants accessible to landholders, environmental consultants and those interested in natural history,” Dr Liddle said.

“The guide has coloured illustrations and descriptions of key characteristics for the identification of 134 plant species, including 25 carnivorous plants from the bladderworts and sundews.

“The high diversity of carnivorous bladderwort plants is noteworthy on the international stage as a world centre of diversity for the group, with up to a dozen different species occurring in an area the size of a basketball court.”

The project was supported by the Top End Native Plant Society through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and technical support from the Northern Territory Government Herbarium.

Financial support for compilation of the field guide has come from Territory Natural Resource Management via a community grant to the Top End Native Plant Society.

The public are invited to attend Sunday’s 9am launch of the field guide on the sandsheet next to the Humpty Doo & Rural Area Golf Club and to practice using the guide with the help of experienced Top End Native Plant Society members and NT Herbarium staff.

The guide will be available for download via www.topendnativeplants.org.au/downloads after the launch and http://eflora.nt.gov.au/regionalecologicalfloras?listregions in future.

Last updated: 25 August 2017