Published on 17 January 2023
Fresh as a daisy
Three coastal flower species are bouncing back from the brink of extinction in Onkaparinga.
Who’ll miss these small yellow daisies if they disappear from Onkaparinga’s coastline?
While scientists don’t know the exact role they play in the complex ecosystem, the flowers are a magnet for small insects, particularly native bees, and butterflies. Would some of these disappear too?
The City of Onkaparinga has been working with the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre and Green Adelaide to protect three species of Copper-wire Daisy (Podolepis)—all considered endangered in the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges—since 2021.
The Centre protects SA’s threatened plant species from extinction while supporting the restoration of habitats. SA’s native plants form an integral part of our unique landscapes and ecosystems, but one in four is threatened due to habitat loss and competition with introduced species.
“Seed collections of all three Podolepis species were made in summer 2021 by seed centre scientists and council staff,” says Lee Withers, City of Onkaparinga Technical Officer Ecological Restoration.
“This was done both for the seed centre to store in its seed bank to help safeguard the species, but also to propagate new plants to grow at new sites on Onkaparinga’s coast.”
South Australian Seed Conservation Centre Flora Ecologist, Bradley Bianco, says Onkaparinga retains some of Adelaide’s most significant remnant coastal vegetation.
“Onkaparinga’s home to many species of native plants, some of which are very rare and threatened with extinction, Bradley says. “Creating additional populations mitigates that risk.”
In winter 2022, council and seed centre staff began planting new daisy populations with the support of Green Adelaide.
“The Bright Copper-wire Daisy (Podolepis decipiens) was only known to exist in this region from a single remnant population in Port Willunga before we planted it at a similar spot at Sellicks Beach,” said Bradley.
“The Small Copper-wire Daisy (Podolepis muelleri) hadn’t been seen along coastal vegetation north of Maslin Beach since the 1960s, and we translocated this to two sites south of Gull Rock where plants hadn’t been spotted since the early 2000s.
“The Coast Copper-wire Daisy (Podolepis rugata ssp. littoralis) was planted at two sites along the Aldinga Esplanade, where the species hadn’t been seen for decades.”
Signs since the plantings have been positive, with flowering of the new plants occurring in all three species. Assessment of how much seed the plants are setting is taking place this summer.
Lee says planting, and partnering with government agencies and the community, are just some of the activities in council’s toolbox to protect native flora and fauna.
One of the council's next major conservation projects is an Ecological Linkages Study, which will bring together all known fauna and flora information available for the region to provide a powerful biodiversity mapping tool.
This will help highlight where other important species exist in Onkaparinga, and what we can all do to help improve their chances of survival.