Tasmanian Plants

Bruny Island

This large island situated south of Hobart is divided into the north and the south by this narrow isthmus, the high Truganini lookout offering spectacular views. We camped at Adventure Bay to the south-east, near Captain Cook’s landing point in 1773.

    Bruny neck               Adventure Bay2

Taking a walk along the headland track leading to Penguin Island, we were dwarfed by the Eucalypts, mainly the blue gum (E. globulus) and stringybark (E. obliqua). In a later voyage to the bay by Cook (1777) a specimen of the stringybark was collected, and later designated the name Eucalyptus obliqua, the first species of Eucalyptus ever described.

Eucalyptus globulus2
Eucalyptus globulus, source of the world’s major production of eucalyptus oil.

Further along the headland, the dominant species was a robust daisy bush known as blanket bush (Bedfordia salicina) (though unfortunately the flowers had died back),

Bedfordia salicinab
Bedfordia salicina. Blanket bush

with ever present Banksias (B. marginata), while occasional diversions to the rocky shore revealed a large crop of a large seaweed, probably a bull kelp.
Adventure Bay kelp


Heading inland from the bay there is an unsealed road to the west of the south island, transversing Mt. Mangana with rich stands of cool temperate rainforest, while along the roadside the banks were dotted with bushes bearing white berries, these turned out to be Galutheria hispida, copperleaf waxberries, close relatives of the source of medicinal wintergreen (G. procumbens). Along the way numerous panoramic views of the west coast could be sighted through the trees.

Gaultheria hispida Bruny
Gaultheria hispida. Copperleaf snowberry


Mt.Mangana view2
View of west coast from Mt. Mangana

We followed the coastal route south, eventually arriving at Cape Bruny, terminating at the now decommissioned lighthouse. This area consisted mainly of rocky exposed sites supporting healthy stands of hardy vegetation, such as can be seen below.

Pimelia Bruny      Melaleuca gibbosa

Pimelia nivea – Bushman’s bootlace                                  Melaleuca gibbosa – slender honey myrtle

The high point at which the lighthouse was situated offered splendid views of the surrounding bays and capes, with mountain ranges from the mainland in the background.

Epacris impressa2      Cape Bruny view4

                  Epacris impressa                                                                  View from Cape Bruny lighthouse

North Coast

Waterhouse Conservation Area

Herbies Landing Campsite (appropriately named!)

Wild beaches consist of boulders, pebbles, sand. Waterhouse Island is to the North


Waterhouse 2


The beach is lined with succulent sand dune species, behind which thickets of heath-like plants give way to paperbarks in some damper spots. Weedy sea spurge lines the beaches and dunes in places. Further back thickets of shrubs are dominated by Banksia marginata, Leptospermum scoparium (source of manuka honey in NZ) and Melaleuca ericifolia (known as lavender tea-tree, the distilled oil is high in linalool).


Sea spurge Euphorbia paralias. Exotic weed along beachfront


Other plants identified but not photographed:

Dodonaea viscosa subsp. spathulata SAPINDACEAE male flowers

Leucopogon parviflora ERICACEAE

Atriplex cinerea CHENOPODIACEAE

Sarcocornia quinqueflora CHENOPODIACEEAE

Alyxia buxifolia RUTACEAE White flowers

Hartz Mountain National Park

This spectacular park is accessible from the Huon Valley, 2-3 hours south of Hobart. After passing a plantation of blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) just outside of the quaint village of Geeveston (excellent tourist info. centre and coffee shops), there is a long drive through tall forests dominated by E. obliqua (stringybark) and E. regnans (mountain ash) along with Acacia melanoxylon (blackwood) and some (Nothofagus moorei) myrtle beech. For information  on the plants and walking trails at Hartz Mountain I am indebted to Bruce Champion. President of the Hobart branch of the Australian Plant Society, for his overview published in the Winter 2017 edition of Australian Plants magazine.

We drove higher up and parked by a sub-alpine swamp area with excellent views of the mountains. A most spectacular plant along the roadside with cream coloured, Grevillea-like flowers turned out to be Lomatia polymorpha.

Lomatia polymorpha
Lomatia polymorphia, Hartz Mtn. in background

The swamps were rich in plant life, though many of them had done with flowering at this mid-summer time. Present in the damper regions were groups of dainty, blue-flowered insectivores in the Lentibulariaceae family – bladderworts. There are several species of Utricularia in Tasmania, my guess is that this one is U. dichomata, fairy aprons, found in wetlands throughout most of Australia. Another much shorter species, U. monoanthos (Tasmania bladderwort) was also sighted here.

Utricularia spp. Bladderwort

Probably the most showy of the heath plants at the time was the pinkberry. Subsequently I was to find pinkberries all over southern and central Tasmania, but the species are a little hard to distinguish without flowers being present. L. juniperina, the common pinkberry, was probably sighted also.

Leptocophylla pogonocalyx2
Leptecophylla pogonocalyx. Bearded pinkberry

The highlight of the Mt. Hartz visit was the hike to the Glacial Lake Osborne, a walk that led through cool-temperate rainforests dominated by Nothofagus cunninghamii (myrtle beech) with Phyllocladus aspleniifolius (celerytop pine) sharing the canopy in places while the understory consists of Eucryphia  lucida (leatherwood in flower), tall stately Dicksonia antarctica (male ferns), and a yet to be identified shrub with white flowers..  Occasional groves of of eucalypts appeared in almost mallee-like patches, consisting mainly of the E. subcrenulata (alpine yellow gum) with stunning, glaucous-grey foliage.

        Eucalyptus subcrenulata                            Eucalyptus subcrenulata2
  Eucalyptus subcrenulata – alpine yellow gum

Also common along the track the spectacular Richea pandanifolia (pandani) looking more like a Pandanus palm than a heath, but closer inspection of some plants revealed sprigs of fragrant creamy flowers which apparently turn red as they age.

Richea pandanifolia2                      Richea pandanifolia

                    Richea pandanifolia The wold’s tallest heath


Also common are the Cyanthodes platystoma (tall cheeseberry) and  Telopea truncata (Tasmanian waratahs) – I’d like to revisit here in the spring for blossoms.

Cyathoides glauca 
Cyathodes platystoma (Tall cheeseberry)
                White flower    Mystery shrub with white flowers


Closer to Lake Osborne the track went through more open heath with excellent views of Mt. Hartz, including a boardwalk through a swampy area that afforded strategic views of the surrounding low but lush vegetation. One plant to be identified is a succulent, possible of the Crassulaceae?


The destination finally reached, the pure sub-alpine lake felt very soothing to the feet after a hot walk. Scattered around the lake are specimens of the iconic Athrotaxis selaginoides (King Billy pine).

Lake Osborne King Billy
Lake Osborne with King Billy pine in foreground.