Forest Grass Tree; Xanthorrhoea johnsonii 312
7. FURTHER READING 314 8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 316 9. INDEX OF PLANTS BY COMMON NAME 317 10. INDEX OF PLANTS BY SCIENTIFIC NAME 321 ¡¡
Santos is committed to conducting all of its exploration and production activities
in an environmentally responsible manner. Our environmental vision is that “We will
lighten the footprint of our activities”.
This field guide has been produced for Santos employees and contractors to promote
more informed environmental management, and to foster an appreciation of the plants
and environment in which the Eastern Queensland oil and gas fields are situated
(refer to Eastern Queensland oil and gas fields map on page 2).
The first steps in realising these aims are becoming familiar with the names and
appearance of the most common plants in the region, and understanding why it is
important to avoid clearance of certain species.
As oil and gas exploration and production activities increase, so does the likelihood
that significant species or sensitive habitats will be encountered. This guide has
been prepared to aid the identification of 142 of the most common trees and shrubs
found in the oil and gas fields of Eastern Queensland. In addition, profiles have been
included for threatened habitats (section 3) and a selection of rare and threatened
plants (section 4). By doing so, the profile of significant species and ecosystems will
be raised, helping to minimise potential negative impacts.
This is a companion guide to another Santos publication “Field guide to the common
plants of the Cooper Basin,” which covers a selection of plants in the southwest
corner of Queensland and the northeast corner of South Australia.
The common plants described in this Field Guide (sections 5 and 6) have been
classified according to: (a) size and form, (b) scientific name, and (c) habitat.
Size and form Based on size and form, the plants are divided into two groups: trees and shrubs.
Trees are greater than 5 metres tall and generally have a single trunk, whereas
shrubs are less than 5 metres tall and are often multi-stemmed from the base. Both
are perennial (long-lived) plants, although trees often live considerably longer than
shrubs. Note that the growth form of plants is highly dependant on landform and
substrate, hence some species can grow as either trees or shrubs.
Scientific names Within each of the above groups, plants are listed alphabetically according to their
scientific name. Scientific names are composed of two parts; first their generic name
(genus), followed by the specific name (species). Plants from the same genus are
closely related and therefore usually of similar appearance. Knowing the general
appearance of plants from a particular genus enables one to identify a great number
of plants to at least the level of genus. The precise identity of a plant within a genus
is provided by the species name. For example, poplar box and silver-leaved ironbark
are both from the genus Eucalyptus, but are differentiated by their species name;
ie. Eucalyptus populnea (poplar box) and Eucalyptus melanophloia (silver-leaved
The botanical names used in this publication are up to date at the time of printing.
Some species have recently undergone name changes, and where this is the case, the
old name is listed under ‘Notes’. Common names selected for use in this publication
are those most frequently used in the region. However, many plants are known by
several common names (even within the same district) and where this is the case, a
range of common names has been included. Note that one common name is frequently
applied to more than one species. Common examples include ‘dogwood’, ‘rosewood’
and ‘black wattle’.
Habitat Descriptions of habitat relate to the environment (including soil and topography)
in which a particular plant grows. Due to the great variation in climate, elevation,
topography, geology and soils found within the coverage area, there is a
corresponding high diversity of habitats present. Twelve broad habitat types are
recognisable in the coverage area. Colour codes have been used to designate these
habitats and they are included within the habitat descriptions. Many plants occupy
more than one habitat type, and in these instances, more than one colour has been
HABITAT DESCRIPTION HABITAT KEY Eucalypt woodland
on basalt hills and
Common species include mountain
coolibah, narrow-leaved ironbark
and red bloodwood
Eucalypt woodland on
Often dominated by ironbarks,
bloodwoods, stringybarks, grey gum,
spotted/lemon-scented gum, budgeroo,
woody pear and thready-bark she-oak.
Understorey is often very species rich and
dominated by wattles.
Eucalypt woodland on
Usually dominated by poplar box and/ or
woodland/ open forest
White cypress pine forms thickets on
the vast sand plains occurring throughout
much of the coverage area
Riparian vegetation means the plants
occurring on the banks and channels of
watercourses, which typically include river
red gum, Queensland blue gum, rough-
barked apple, river she-oak, black tea-tree,
western tea-tree, weeping bottlebrush,
doolan and river cooba.
Coolibah, poplar box, river red gum and
Queensland blue gum form open woodlands
on the alluvial plains associated with
watercourses. A variety of wetland types
may be associated with floodplains,
including swamps, lagoons and gilgais or
Rolling clay plains are sometimes
vegetated by grasslands dominated by
Queensland bluegrass (Dichanthium sericeum) and/or curly Mitchell grass
(Astrebla lappacea). Grasslands are
locally referred to as ‘downs’ country.
Shrubby heathlands and spinifex (Triodia spp.) communities occur patchily in the
coverage area on sand plains, sand ridges
and areas of rock pavement. They usually
have many plant species and often contain
rare, threatened and localised plant
Stands of brigalow occur on clay plains
and hill slopes and were extensive prior
to broad-scale clearing. Brigalow may
occur on its own or with other trees, for
example, belah, poplar box, Dawson gum
and mountain yapunyah
Stands of mulga occur on loamy red earths
and hard ridges in the southern parts of
the coverage area. Associated trees include
poplar box and silver-leaved ironbark.
of Acacia on residual
Hard rocky ridges are often dominated
by bendee, lancewood or bowyakka.
Semi-evergreen vine thicket is also
known as bottle tree scrub, dry rainforest
or softwood scrub. It occurs on hill slopes,
sheltered gorges and clay plains in central
and northern parts of the coverage area.
How to identify a plant When attempting to identify a plant the following steps are recommended:
1. Decide whether the plant is a tree or shrub; go to the relevant section of the
handbook (section 5 or 6).
2. Note the type of country (habitat) in which the plant is growing; narrow down the
choice of plants to those from the relevant habitat by using the colour code.
3. Compare the photographs of the most likely plants with the plant in question,
taking particular note of the shape of the plant, the form, colour and texture of
the trunk or stem, and the colour and shape of leaves, fruit, buds and flowers.
4. Finally, if uncertain, compare the descriptions of bark, leaves, flowers and fruit
with those of the plant in question.
Botanical terminology can be difficult, confronting and hard to remember for those
who just want to know the name of a particular plant. Technical botanical terms
have been deliberately avoided in this publication and they are covered in detail by
numerous plant books (see section 7 Further Reading).
Descriptions are based on locally occurring forms of plants, hence they may vary
slightly or significantly from descriptions in other publications. Some plants vary
greatly across their range, and even within the coverage area some species may
exhibit considerable variation in growth form and the size, shape and colour of leaves,
flowers, buds and fruit.
Flowering times listed for each species represent the period in which that species
has been observed flowering most frequently. Note that flowering times can vary
significantly. For widespread species, flowering times may vary in different parts
of that species range (for example, north vs south). Prevailing seasonal conditions
greatly influence the timing and intensity of flowering in some species, including
mulga, bendee, false sandalwood and wilga. Flowering intensity also varies annually.
Budgeroo, ooline and woody pear are examples of species that produce little flower in
some years and masses of flower in others.
Fruiting times have not been included as they are even more variable and
unpredictable than flowering times and many plants do not necessarily produce fruit
each time that they flower.
Further advice should be sought before making management decisions based on
identifications using this guide. Positive plant identifications can be obtained by
sending samples to the Queensland Herbarium (phone 07-38969326 for guidelines or
refer to Santos EHS Management System Environmental Hazard Standard EHS09).
Eastern Queensland Oil and Gas Fields The gas and oil fields of relevance to this publication occur in the Surat and Bowen
Basins of Eastern Queensland. They are aligned in a series of fields between Emerald
in the north and Moonie in the south. For the purposes of this publication, key
geographic regions containing significant petroleum resources have been grouped as
follows (refer to maps on page 2 and 8).
Denison This area lies primarily between Emerald and Rolleston and has parts within both the
Brigalow Belt North and Brigalow Belt South biogeographic regions. The landscape is
predominantly undulating or rolling clay plains with bluegrass downs or eucalypt and/
or brigalow woodland. The major watercourse is the Comet River. Several plants occur
only or predominantly in this part of the coverage area; for example, Dallachy’s gum,
Leichhardt bean, Dawson gum and eastern dead finish.