Queensland’s flora is the most diverse amongst the Australian states with over 12 500 species, roughly 50% of Australia’s plant species. This extraordinary plant diversity reflects the wide range of plant habitats, variety of soils on which they grow and also wide ranging climatic conditions. We have rainforests, eucalypt forests, monsoon forests, coastal heaths, montane heaths, mangrove forests and many more!
As a brief overview of the flora, Queensland has:
- over 600 species in the family Myrtaceae (Eucalypts, bottlebrushes, paperbarks, etc),
- over 600 species of peas (Fabaceae family),
- over 300 wattles (Mimosaceae family),
- nearly 800 grass species (Poaceae family),
- over 1 000 of these Queensland species are listed as threatened species under the Nature Conservation Act,
- over 900 species alone in Lamington National Park in S-E Queensland, 59 of which are listed as threatened species,
- over 3 000 species in coastal S-E Qld,
- and many unnamed species and many yet to discover.
There has been a degree of research into medicinal properties of our native plants in recent years, especially into plant compounds that show promising potential for cancer treatments.
Interestingly, Great Britain by comparison has in the vicinity of 1400 native species and as many weed species.
A long standing motto in the SGAP was “preservation through cultivation”, and while this has some merits for plant conservation, the best option is always to ensure plant habitat preservation. In this way the plant’s survival has the best chances for the future as it is co-existing with the other flora and fauna that are part of its ecosystem where pollination, seed dispersal and conditions favourable for germination and growth occur. And the species can continue on its evolutionary path under natural conditions.
The uses of our native flora for medicine
There has been a degree of research into medicinal properties of our native plants over the years, but the Australian Indigenous people certainly practised their medicine for thousands of years with a great emphasis on traditional plant use in their “medicine chests”. We still have a lot to learn from their ethnomedicine practices.
Contemporary Australian botanical research into the medicinal value of our flora has revealed actual and potential medicinal values such as anti-bacterial compounds for antiseptics, and other uses that include analgesics, astringents, antipyretics, sedatives, hypnotics, expectorants, carminatives & mood-altering drugs. In recent years, there has been some research especially into plant compounds that show promising potential for cancer treatments. One such genus is Fontainea. And recently some research was conducted into the chemical properties of Black Bean (Castanospermum australe) for AIDS treatment. And the therapeutic properties of lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) essential oil are now widely recognized.
Time will tell what other important medical revelations are revealed in our native flora. And all the more reason for conserving a wide variety of our natural areas in Australia where these species grow naturally.
Due to its diversity of climate and soil types, Queensland has a wide range of ecosystems. The conservation of native Australian flora is essential for the maintenance of biodiversity in all of these ecosystems.
We recognise that our knowledge of Australian flora is incomplete and that we cannot successfully reconstruct an ecosystem after it has been destroyed. Therefore we aim to conserve, in-situ, significant portions of Queensland's regional ecosystems for the benefit of future generations.
To promote this conservation Native Plants Queensland:
- Assists in the identification, mapping and evaluation of remnant native vegetation.
- Places a high priority on the protection of Rare and Threatened species and their habitats.
- Educates our own members and the wider community about the intrinsic value of the native flora and the need for its conservation.
- Recognizes the threats to native plant communities (e.g. environmental weeds, vegetation clearing) and develop intervention strategies, including but not limited to, regeneration, revegetation and propagation.
- Makes representations to and co-operate with all levels of Government – Commonwealth, State, Local – to ensure “Best Practice” legislation protects areas with plants of conservation significance.
- Liaises and co-operate with other like-minded organisations on conservation and environmental issues affecting Australian flora.
For further information please contact us via our Contact page.