Fraser Island Plant Life

Fraser Island has a wide variety of plant communities growing in sand and ranging from coastal heaths to subtropical rainforests.

Majestic rainforests can be found in the gullies of the central high dunes which are protected from winds and have a plentiful supply of freshwater and greater amounts of nutrients. These are centuries old and home to the living fossil fern (Angiopteris evecta), numerous piccabeen palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) and carrol (Backhousia myrtifolia).

Competition for light is intense in rainforest areas resulting in tall, straight stemmed trees that have few branches until they reach the upper canopy where their branches spread and help to form the dense canopy that shades the lower levels. This canopy prevents the dense under storey growth that may be seen in other plant communities.

The dominant trees in these rainforest areas are the Fraser Island satinay (Syncarpia hillii) and brush box (Lophostemon confertus). Often emerging above this 50 metre canopy are hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii) and kauri pines (Agathis robusta) as well as creepers, massive birds' nest ferns, elkhorns and, occasionally, native orchids.

The western side of Fraser Island features the older sand dune systems and appears to have a greater wealth of flowering plants. Here you can see Wide Bay boronia (Boronia rivularis) which has a seasonal abundance of waxy purple flowers, is common in the wetter areas and is thought to be found only in the Great Sandy region.

The mauve-flowered forest boronia (Boronia rosmarinifolia) is more common in open forest areas. It is not the flowers of these boronias that are scented but the leaves. Also with highly scented leaves and found in abundance are the lemon-scented tea trees (Leptospermum spp.). These shrubs have a waxy, white flower that develops into a woody seed case.

From August to September wedding bush (Ricinocarpus pinifolius) can be seen covered in a profusion of small, five-petalled, white flowers. There are a number of peaflowers (Fabaceae family), most of which are yellow in colour, plus a number of small leaved heaths (Epacridaceae family) that flower at various times throughout the year, giving visitors a display of wildflowers virtually all year round.

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