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Bendigo farmers asked to help save critically endangered native shrub

Bendigo farmers may hold the key to the survival of a critically endangered flowering shrub.

Victoria University PhD student Debbie Reynolds has been monitoring the populations of Spiny Rice-flower at 16 locations around Victoria for the past two years.

Spiny Rice-flower, or Pimelea spinescens, is a small shrub found only in the temperate grasslands of the Victorian volcanic plains around Bendigo and Echuca. It has creamy to yellow coloured flowers which bloom from April to August.

The low-growing shrub is so rare that it has been labelled critically endangered under the federal Environment Biodiversity Protection and Conservation (EBPC) Act.

Ms Reynolds said the distribution of the flower has been severely fragmented and only five per cent of the known populations are protected in reserves.

"An important part of my research is to obtain an accurate history of the management and farming practices of the sites where the shrub still grows,'' she said.

"This includes anything that has impacted on the vegetation such as mowing, digging, burning, soil disturbance, grazing and weed control measures. Any information on the general time, seasons, years and/or frequency of the works would be gratefully received.

"Understanding what has occurred at these sites in the past can help us understand why the plant survives today and how we can successfully manage populations for the future.''

Ms Reynolds said it was a miracle some of the populations of Spiny Rice-flower had survived.

"Some of these areas have been mown or burnt every year for half a century and the shrub keeps rejuvenating. The fact that they survive at a site at all tells us something special has, and is, occurring for the plant to persist.''

Ms Reynolds can be contacted on 9390 2791 or 0410 559 969, or via email at deborah.reynolds@live.vu.edu.au

Photos of Spiny Rice-flower are available upon request.

For interview: Debbie Reynolds on (03) 9390 2791 or 0410 559 969.

Media Contact:

Daniel Clarke, Media Officer,

VU Marketing and Communications Department

Ph: 9919 9491 or 0407 771 072.

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