Established under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
The Minister’s delegate approved this Conservation Advice on 01/04/2016.
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Verticordia spicata subsp. squamosa
the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth) (EPBC Act). The
species is eligible for listing as Endangered as, prior to the commencement of the EPBC Act, it
was listed as Endangered under Schedule 1 of the Endangered Species Protection
The main factors that are the cause of the species being eligible for listing in the Endangered
category are its very low total number of mature individuals (fewer than 250) and a severe
population size reduction in the past (based on declines in extent and habitat quality).
The scaly-leaved featherflower is also listed as Critically Endangered under the Wildlife
Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia). The Western Australian Government identifies that
the species is eligible for listing in the Critically Endangered category under IUCN criteria A4c
(very severe reduction in population size based on declines in extent and habitat quality),
B1ab (i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab (i,ii,iii,iv,v) (very restricted distribution that is precarious for survival based
on severe fragmentation and observed continuing decline), C2a(i) (very low population size,
observed continuing decline and fewer than 50 individuals in each subpopulation) and
D (extremely low number of mature individuals) (DPAW 2014).
The scaly-leaved featherflower is a dense bushy shrub growing 1.5 m tall and 1 m wide. It has
rounded to elliptic leaves that are 1.5-2 mm long with prominent oil glands. The leaves closely
overlap and are pressed to the stem, providing the scaly appearance from which this subspecies
derives its name (the Latin word for scaly is squamosus). Flowers are produced in late spring
and early summer and are closely packed, forming dense spikes on the ends of the branches.
They open mauve-pink before the whole spike fades evenly to white with age (George 2002,
and Brown et al. 1998, cited in Stack et al., 2004).
The scaly-leaved featherflower differs from V. s. subsp. spicata in its smaller leaves and flowers
Australian Herbarium, 2015). Scaly-leaved featherflower individuals may live for at least
35 years (Stack et al. 2004) and the subspecies is known to hybridise with the co-occurring
V. comosa (George 2002, cited in Stack et al. 2004).
The scaly-leaved featherflower is endemic to the Three Springs and Mingenew areas, 300 km
south-east of Geraldton in Western Australia. The species occurs over an estimated linear range
of 20 km. The area that it occurs in has been extensively cleared and most subpopulations
occur along narrow road reserves (Stack et al., 2004).
Scaly-leaved featherflower has been recorded from ten subpopulations, however, only six were
recovery plan was adopted) and 2011, two wild subpopulations became extinct (DEC 2011,
cited in DSEWPaC 2011).
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In 2011, the subspecies had an abundance of 37 mature plants: the largest subpopulation was a
translocated site (17 plants), three sites had fewer plants (12 plants, 7 plants and 1 plant) and
the three other sites had not been monitored since 2003 (DEC 2011, cited in DSEWPaC 2011).
The translocated population exists in very good habitat, however, no recruitment has been
observed at the site and abundance increases are the result of follow up plantings (DEC 2011,
cited in DSEWPaC 2011).
Scaly-leaved featherflower occurs in open mallee over low scrub (Stack et al., 2004) on
sandplain flats on deep yellow sands, yellow-brown sand and yellow clayey sand
(Spooner 2005, cited in Western Australian Herbarium, 2015). Associated species include
and V. eriocephala.
Verticordia plants are generally killed by fire and post-fire regeneration occurs mainly from seed,
however, a few species have a lignotuber and resprout after fire (George, pers. comm., cited in
Stack et al., 2004). The specific fire response of scaly-leaved featherflower is unknown.
Propagation of scaly-leaved featherflower has generally been unsuccessful. Of 916 cuttings that
site in 2002. Of an unknown number of seeds that were sown and smoke treated, 18 survived
and were also used in the translocation (Shade, pers. comm., cited in Stack et al., 2004). In the
wild, seed viability correlates with abundance of mature plants and habitat quality; as such,
larger populations in better quality habitat should be protected to improve the species’ chance of
recovery (Stack et al., 2004). Physical soil disturbance appears to have a positive influence on
germination of seed, with two seedlings germinating after roadworks at one subpopulation
(Stack et al. 2004).
Scaly-leaved featherflower subpopulations that occur in linear populations are threatened by
edge effects, inappropriate maintenance of roads, fences and firebreaks, and impacts
associated with degraded habitat (insufficient pollinator activity and lack of available habitat for
recruitment) (Stack et al. 2004). Habitat quality is degraded at all known natural sites and most
subpopulations are threatened by weed invasion and competition, warren excavation by rabbits
(Oryctolagus cuniculus) and inappropriate fire regimes (Stack et al. 2004). Habitat degradation
or lack of appropriate disturbance has severely limited natural recruitment, which has only been
recorded at one site (Stack et al. 2004).
Conservation and Management priorities
New subpopulations established
As the subspecies only occurs on highly vulnerable roadsides, translocation to new, safe-
vegetation, topography) should be undertaken in planning a translocation. Relevant
policies should be referred to for guidance for undertaking translocations
(e.g. CALM 1995; Vallee et al. 2004).
Habitat loss, disturbance and modifications
Seek long term protection of habitat on private land. In 2004, there were no reserves that
contained appropriate habitat for the species (Stack et al. 2004).
With the cooperation of the landholders, rehabilitate habitat in and around subpopulations
to subpopulations and reduce edge effects (Stack et al. 2004).
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Subpopulations may benefit from periodic disturbance, which may stimulate recruitment.
intensive weed control should be undertaken following disturbance events. Protect
juvenile plants (i.e. particularly after germination events) from grazing by livestock and
Ensure existing population is protected during road maintenance and upgrading.
Ensure relevant stakeholders (the local community, private landowners, and public land
against key threats to ensure subpopulations are not accidently damaged or destroyed.
Continue to promote awareness of the species with relevant stakeholders through the use
Invasive species (including threats from grazing, trampling, predation)
Suitably constraining stock access to known sites on public land, including prevention of
grazing through fences, and manage sheep grazing on private land and other land
Undertake annual rabbit baiting at Three Springs subpopulations. Continue annual rabbit
limit the impact of rabbit warren construction. Relevant policies should be referred to for
guidance for rabbit control (e.g. DEWHA, 2008).
Undertake weed control for invasive species at affected populations and in the local area
control include hand weeding or localised application of herbicide during the
Develop and implement a fire management strategy that recommends fire frequency,
intensity, season and control measures. Relevant policies should be referred to for
guidance for fire management in linear reserves (e.g. RCC 2011). The species is at risk
of localised extinction caused by too frequent fire. Fire prevention, except when used as a
recovery tool, has been recommended (Stack et al. 2004).
Any use of prescribed or experimental fires must be very well justified, and is typically an
demonstrated funding to ensure post-fire monitoring and control actions occur (e.g. weed
control based on sound scientific evidence).
Provide maps of known occurrences to local and state fire teams and seek inclusion of
Undertake seed germination and/or vegetative propagation trials, including post fire,to
held by the Threatened Flora Seed Centre (Stack et al. 2004).
The following research topics have been recommended to help inform the recovery of the
for the breaking of seed dormancy; the role of disturbance, competition, rainfall and
grazing in germination recruitment; pollination biology; requirements of pollinators;
reproductive strategies; the presence or absence of a lignotuber, enabling the recovery of
adult plants following physical disturbance; and the population genetic structure (Stack
et al. 2004).
Develop predictive models for the species geographical distributions based on the
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data-set of species presence information plus the range of environmental variables that
are known to influence the species distribution. If this data is not available then a
research priority should be to collect and assimilate this information. See Phillips and
colleagues (2006) for guidance on species distribution modelling.
Develop habitat suitability models to determine the ecological/environmental indices
threats. Requires a reasonable high number of presence records, plus the environmental
variables located at this site and other sites chosen at random. See Guisan &
Zimmermann (2000) for guidance on habitat suitability modelling.
With permission of landowners, undertake surveys for new subpopulations in suitable
Design and implement a monitoring program or, if appropriate, support and enhance
(weed invasion and salinity), abundance, pollinator activity, seed production, recruitment,
subpopulation health, impacts of browsing and disease (Stack et al., 2004).
References cited in the advice
CALM (Department of Conservation and Land Management) (1995). Translocation of
Threatened Flora and Fauna. Policy Statement No. 29. Government of Western Australia.
DSEWPaC (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and
Communities) (2011). Review of Recovery Plan for Verticordia spicata
DEWHA (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts) (2008). Threat
abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits. Commonwealth of
DPAW (Department of Parks and Wildlife) (2014). Threatened Flora Rankings Current
2 December 2014. Government of Western Australia.
Guisan, A., & Zimmermann, N.E. (2000) Predictive habitat distribution models in ecology.
Ecological Modelling 135: 147-186.
Phillips, S.J., Anderson, R.P., & Schapire, R.E. (2006). Maximum entropy modeling of species
geographic distributions. Ecological Modelling 190(3-4): 231-259.
RCC (Roadside Conservation Committee) (2011). Biodiversity Conservation and Fire in Road
and Rail Reserves: Management Guidelines. Government of Western Australia.
Stack, G., Chant, A., Broun, G., & English, V. (2004). Scaly-leaved featherflower
(Verticordia spicata subsp. squamosa) Interim Recovery Plan 2004-2009. Interim
Recovery Plan No. 185. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western
Australian Threatened Species and Conservation Unit.
Vallee, L., Hogbin, T., Monks, L., Makinson, B., Matthes, B., & Rossetto, M. (2004). Guidelines
for the translocation of threatened plants in Australia - Second Edition. Canberra, ACT:
Australian Network for Plant Conservation.
Western Australian Herbarium (2015). FloraBase—the Western Australian Flora. Department of
Parks and Wildlife.
Viewed: 8 October 2015
Available on the Internet at: