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Vegetation, Plants and Botanical Information Great Sandy Desert

 

The predominant land system in the Great Sandy Desert is the dunefields, typified by longitudinal sand dunes and interdunal corridors. The dominant vegetation there is hummock grassland of Soft Spinifex Triodia pungens and Feather-top Spinifex Triodia schinzii. A certain number of small woody and herbaceous plants, many ephemeral inhabit the spaces between the hummocks. Above the spinifex are a number of scattered trees and shrubs (tree steppe and shrub steppe). Most conspicuous are the large Sand Dune Bloodwoods Corymbia chippendalei, tall elegant gums that grow on the very crests of the dunes. Another conspicuous tree is the Desert Walnut Owenia reticulata with its deep green foliage and gnarled bark. A common shrub in the dunefields is Holly Grevillea Grevillea wickhamii, with its holly like leaves and red chinese lantern like inflorescence. It was named after John Wickham, who was first Lieutenant of Charles Darwin’s expedition on HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836. The spindly shrub Honey Grevillea, Grevillea eriostachya, flowers during winter and drips with sweet nectar that can be sucked from the flower or added to sweeten a jug of water. The stunning Desert Grevillea Grevillea stenobotrya has deep golden inflorescence. Acacia, as in all dunefields in Australia are well represented. Thick stands of Pindan Wattle Acacia tumida crowd the interdunal corridors with deep golden elongate blossoms. The sandhill wattle Acacia dictyophleba takes on a whipstick shape. There is also the ubiquitous Umbrella Bush Acacia ligulata, and the Elegant Wattle Acacia victoriae. Common is the Black Gidgee Acacia pruinocarpa. After fire large areas of Spinifex are temporarily cleared allowing the growth of ephemeral plants like the Sand Sage Dicrastylis lewelli. Within the desert there are gently undulating lateritic uplands which are dominated by shrub steppe of acacia, hakea and grevillea over Spinifex. There are rocky outcrops from which grows the Rock Fig Ficus patypoda with its gnarled roots and trunks clinging to the red rock. There is also the Caustic Tree Grevillea pyramidalis, the Batswing Coral Tree Erythrina vespertilio and the Rough Leaved Range Gum Corymbia candida. There is also the Snappy Gum Eucalyptus leucophhloia.
Some of the flowering shrubs found in the desert include the pea Crotalaria eremaea with its distinctive grey foliage, the Turkey Bush Calytrix exstipulata, Dodonaea coiacea, and the Desert Heath Myrtle Aluta maisonneuvei. One of the most striking plants is the Northern Tinsel Flower Cyanostegia cyanocalyx with its stunning massed bloom of dark purple. It flowers in the middle of the dry season. Other striking plants are the Mulla-Mullas Ptilotus sp. With their hairy flowers of red, pink, yellow green and white like pussy cat tails.

On paleodrainage basins there are extensive stands of the majestic Desert Oak Allocasuarina decaisneana with their weeping phylodes that whistle in the wind.
In low lying areas close to ground water there are stands of Tea Tree Melaleuca lasiandra and bulrush Typha domingensis, and In saline areas beside playas and salt lakes there is samphire and other Chenopods.
Curiously just south of Billiluna there is a disjunct population of Gutta-percha, unusual small trees Excoecaria parvifolia.
There is such a great diversity of plants in the Great Sandy Desert , a complete list is beyond the scope of this website.

 
 
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holly grevillea pindan wattle   mulla mulla    
Grevillea Wikhamii
Acacia tumida
ptilotus
     
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