Hidden in plain sight, the wrinkle of endangered pimples is reviving

As the trains pass, daisies grow in the ground on three vacant blocks next to the Sunbury Line.

But far from an understatement about death, these particular daisies embody a rare survival story.

The small plants are so valuable that the state government does not want their location revealed, and they are secured behind 2 meter high fences.

The brilliantly named button wrinkle, an endangered wildflower, exists in less than 30 known locations across Victoria, NSW and ACT.

A button rider grows among the tall grass near the railroad tracks.(ABC News: Kristian Silva)

Luckily, one of these places is on a state-owned land reserve in northwest Melbourne, surrounded by rail tracks, roads, a school and suburban homes.

With careful protection and management, site manager Ash Deans said native grasslands and endangered plant species on the property, such as multiple sclerosis and prickly rice flower, are starting again. to thrive.

“We don’t have too many opportunities to be involved in running a site like this,” said Mr. Deans.

“It’s just the different native flowers and herbs. The whole site benefits from what we’re doing here.”

Man in hi-vis vest kneels tending to small plants
Ash Deans says native plants thrive in largely unnoticed boulders. (ABC News: Kristian Silva)

Mr Deans, an environmental officer at the Department of Transportation, said 14 duucâtres wrinkle plants were recorded on the reserve about six years ago, when a crossing was removed.

With careful management, the population has grown to around 40. The department has started planting another 100 seedlings which have been propagated away from the site.

A plant with small green shoots
Seedlings grown off-site were delicately planted in the railway reserve.(ABC News: Kristian Silva)

To some extent, the button rider may consider herself lucky.

The species has reappeared after creating a cult among conservationists along the volcanic plains in the western part of the state. A solitary button borer next to a country road even has its own Facebook page.

Other native flora across Australia continued their slow decline towards extinction, mostly unnoticed by the general public.

Last year, researchers at the University of Queensland found that between 1995 and 2017, populations of 112 plant species declined by an average of 72%.

Scientist Hugh Possingham, one of the project leaders for the Annual Endangered Species Index, said land clearing, development, agriculture and wildlife were largely to blame for the grim outlook for many plants threatened.

Professor Possingham, who is also Queensland’s chief scientist, said the cost of saving an endangered plant species is often less than $ 100,000.

Much of the heavy planting and weeding work could be done by volunteers, he said.

“From a return on investment perspective, investing in the recovery of endangered plants is probably the smartest thing Australia can do when it comes to the environment,” said Professor Possingham.


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