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Pretty heath

Current status

[Photo of pretty heath by D. Wade.]

This is another of our endemic epacrids or heaths. It is listed as vulnerable in the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and endangered under the Federal Act.

Why is it a threatened species?

This species is threatened because it is restricted to a certain type of habitat and this type of habitat is rare in Tasmania. Pretty heath (Epacris virgata) only grows on serpentine soil. Serpentine soil is only found in two spots in Tasmania. It is found at Beaconsfield and also there is a small patch on the west coast. Serpentine soil is itself renowned as a site for rare plants and there are other rare epacrids growing in association with it on the west coast.

Pretty heath has only been found at Beaconsfield, restricted to the serpentine soil there. Being restricted to only one area puts it at risk of becoming endangered or extinct if something happens to that population. For example, if Phytophthora, a root rot fungus, infested that area then these plants could all be lost. Similarly this species would be at risk from private logging.

What is being done?

As epacrids are susceptible to Phytophthora, management plans and research are underway to identify Phytophthora susceptible plants and risk areas so that the risk of spread to these areas is reduced. Within its habitat, pretty heath is quite common. It occurs both on private land and also in a Forest Reserve. There is some debate over its taxonomic classification.

In 2002, Forestry Tasmania conducted ecological burning to promote new growth of the Pretty heath.

View Distribution Map