Searching for Grevillea microstegia

During October, WAMA was invited by the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) to help locate the remaining populations of a rare grevillea called Grevillea microstegia.   It is one of the plants that has been propagated and grown by our volunteers for the Endemic Garden, but it’s distribution in the wild is dwindling.  

The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria has a grant from the State Department of Environment (DDECA) Nature Fund to provide detailed identification and documentation of 24 native plants in Victoria that are classified as rare and endangered.   One of those species is Grevillea microstegia that is endemic to the Grampians. 

The focus of the day was to look for this plant on the east slope of Mt Cassell.  Our group of fifteen plant hunters included: staff from the Melbourne Gardens and Cranbourne Gardens, a PhD student from La Trobe University and volunteers from WAMA.   Our participants included: Glenda Lewin, Neil Marriott, Jocelyn King, Ben Mackley and Jill Burness.

Due to the steep nature of the terrain, we were ferried in 4-wheel drive vehicles (up a very rough forestry track) to our starting point.  We were divided into pairs and armed with a GPS and a clipboard, so we could record the location of every plant we found.  We were asked to move up the east slope of Mt Cassell to the top of the ridgeline.  Similar to a police search party, we formed a line across the site – with each pair about 10-20 metres apart.

We were looking for a low-growing grevillea with prickly leaves and a red flower.   Before long, there was a shout from Glenda: “I’ve found one”, and the search had begun. Sounds easy, except that Mt Cassell has a very rough and rocky surface, with low ground covers, fallen logs and jumping jack nests.  At times, we were confronted by a solid wall of rock, and had to climb around it, before spreading out again to continue the search. Most of the time, we were moving through a Woody Heathland, with an overstorey of Grampians Grey Gum or Callitris.

At the end of the day, we recorded over 540 plants that were extremely pleasing to find with the views of the Grampians ranges before us.   RBGV now have a valuable baseline of information that will contribute to the future conservation of Grevillea microstega.  We left the site, after thanking the RBGV for the opportunity to contribute to the day.


Contributed by Jill Burness, WAMA Board member, Flora