On Clean Up Australia Day volunteers noted a new species of grass not recorded in Maynard Park before – Queensland Blue Grass (Dichanthium sericeum subsp. sericeum). Although a relatively common grass species, the find is significant because it shows how native plants are returning after the Buffel Grass is steadily being treated in the park.
The addition of this plant brings the total number of native species recorded in the park to 103. Of these there are 19 tree and shrub species, and 84 herbs, wildflowers or grasses. An original survey of the park undertaken in late 2009 before the onset of rain recorded only 29 species. The remaining 74 species have responded to rainfall and the removal of competition from Buffel Grass.
This concentration of biodiversity represented by annual and bi-annual species (1-2 year species) reflects the nature of arid-zone ecology that is driven by boom and bust cycles. The important lesson for Landcare at Maynard Park is that we are giving these species a chance to set seed, which is the only way they will survive here over the long term. Acting now, whilst these plants are active, is critical to the success of this strategy.
Weeds are also able to take advantage of the rain. To date 15 weed species have been recorded in the park. Following treatment of the Buffel Grass a number of weeds are able to move-in, including Pitted Lovegrass (Eragrostis barrellei), Prickly Lettuce (Latuca seriola), Ruby Dock (Acetosa vesicaria) and Fleabane (Conyza bonariensis). Treatment of these is ongoing at bush regeneration field days held every 2nd Saturday of the month.