Nature Profiles

Flora of the Flinders Ranges


Telowie Gorge CP

Telowie Gorge lies at the far southern end of the Flinders Ranges.

Acacia ligulata (Umbrella Bush)


This Acacia is very widespread, inhabiting semi-arid and arid areas of the entire southern half of the country, south of the Tropic of Capricorn. 

Its flattened glaucous phyllodes help to identify it, although similar, closely-related species (such as A.cupularis) are very similar and can hybridise with this species. 

Thanks to Helen Vonow for confirming the identification.



Acacia iteaphylla (Flinders Ranges Wattle)


Telowie Gorge marks the southern limit of this large bushy Acacia's natural distribution.  Acacia iteaphylla is endemic to South Australia, although it has become a naturalised weed in all the other southern states, as well as other areas of South Australia. 

It can be recognised by its long, thin phyllodes and pruinose (covered in a greyish powder) seed pods.



Alyogyne huegelii (Lilac Hibiscus)


This beautiful shrub is common in the Flinders Ranges.  It is easily recognised by its lilac flowers and hairy palmate leaves which are densely covered in short, stellate hairs. 

A second species, A.hakeifolia, is found in the Northern Flinders Ranges, but has linear leaves and flowers which have darker purple centres, so the two plants cannot be confused. 

Lilac Hibiscus is also widely distributed on the Eyre Peninsula, with one or two recent records from the northern Mount Lofty Ranges, which mark the eastern limit of the species' distribution.  It is also a common plant of coastal Western Australia.




Oligochaetochilus bisetus (Bristled Rustyhood)

image coming soon!

Not the most attractive of orchids, but a common species in dryer areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges and further inland in South Australia. 

Until recently this orchid was known as Pterostylis biseta, but is now part Oligochaetochilus.  Like Plumatochilus (below), the genus is not fully described, with less than half the species named. 

This species is almost endemic to South Australia, from the Flinders Ranges south to Monarto and possibly east into western Victoria.  The wide brown lateral sepals with long free tips are diagnostic.



Callistemon rugulosus (Scarlet Bottlebrush)


One of the real gems of the South Australian bush, the beautiful large shrub was flowering next the creek in Telowie Gorge.  A Grey-fronted Honeyeater was photographed on this same plant, drinking from the nectar-rich flower spikes. 

Elsewhere in Australia, this species is found in NSW and Victoria.



Dianella revoluta (Black-anther Flax-lily)


This common herbaceous perennial grows throughout temperate Australia in a range of woodland habitats.  The plant is also commonly cultivated in gardens.



Dodonaea viscosa ssp. angustissima (Hop-bush)


Dodonaea viscosa is a very widespread and variable species.  The subspecies pictured here is very abundant in arid Australia.



Sarcostemma australe (Caustic Bush)


This bizarre-looking plant is widespread in northern and central Australia, especially in arid areas where it thickened leafless stems help it retain vital water in a harsh environment. 

South Australia marks the southern limit of its distribution, where it can be found as far south as the Fleurieu Peninsula.



Cassytha sp


This photo shows immature Cassytha fruit, but it's impossible to tell which species this is, as the important characters (of the hairs on the fruit surface) for distinguishing species are only seen clearly on mature fruits.  Four Cassytha species are found in South Australia. 

Thanks to Helen Vonow for the identification.



Mount Remarkable National Park

Arachnorchis tentaculata (Eastern Mantis Orchid)


This beautiful spring-flowering orchid is common in the Mount Lofty Ranges. 

I've described the species in the Flora of the Adelaide Hills & Mount Lofty Ranges - Smaller Plants section of the site. 


Arachnorchis saxatilis (Rancid Spider Orchid)


The southern Flinders Ranges have a number of rare endemic orchids, and I found a decent-sized group of these on a woodland slope near the Alligator Gorge car park.  I didn't find any of the other species, but  was happy to find these. 

The flowers smell like rancid milk, but I didn't smell them at the time!  The yellowish-green stiffly spreading sepals and petals and dark red clubs on the sepal tips help identify this species if you're not brave enough to smell it!

Alligator Gorge



Microtis sp (frutetorum or unifolia) (Onion Orchid)

Alligator Gorge

Currently unidentified!



Pimelea sp (stricta perhaps)

Alligator Gorge

This plant was growing by the roadside at high elevation by the road into Alligator Gorge, and was covered in morning dew. 

The detail in the photo isn't good enough for identifying the species (I didn't know what to look for in Pimeleas at the time!), but the features are suggestive of P.stricta - glabrous stems and narrow, pointed leaves, but the characteristic hairy flowers can't be confirmed from the photo.



Goodenia robusta (Woolly Goodenia)


The common name is very apt for this little woodland and mallee plant.  Like all Goodenias, its yellow flowers have a distinctive recurved petal arrangement, with two above and three below. 

Woolly Goodenia is a widespread plant of South Australia's semi-arid regions, and is especially common in the Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula and Murray mallee.  The species is also found in north-western Victoria.



Cassinia laevis (Cough Bush)

Mambray Creek

A very widespread and common shrub in dry habitats throughout eastern Australia, this species is easily recognised by its woolly-white flowering stems.



Plumatichilos plumosum (Bearded Greenhood)

Alligator Gorge

Known until recently as Pterostylis plumosa, this unusual orchid can be found in all south-eastern states. 

The genus currently contains 4 named species and about a dozen un-named ones.  All have the characteristic hairlike labellum covered in fringing hairs.  Two of the named species are found in South Australia - this widespread species, and P.tasmanicum, which is found further south.




Flinders Ranges National Park

Callitris columellaris (White Cypress Pine)


Wilpena Pound

Referred to by some authors as C. glaucophylla, this tall columnar tree is the dominant species in woodland surrounding Wilpena Pound. 

It is very similar to similar to C. preissii, and some specimens can be just about impossible to determine due to the overlapping of several key features, such as the texture of the cones. 

Although C. glaucophylla usually (but not always) has glaucous foliage (hence the Latin name!), C. preissii also sometimes has this feature, but this is not the norm.



Astroloma humifusum (Native Cranberry)

Wilpena Pound

A common plant of many areas in Australia, this plant is easily recognised by its pointed small leaves and red tubular flowers (they are only buds here). 

This species can be seen in all Australian states except the Northern Territory and Queensland.



Chrysocephalum apiculatum (Common Everlasting)

Wilpena Pound

This very common daisy is found throughout South Australia, from arid habitats to the Adelaide Hills - I've described the species in the Flora of the Adelaide Hills & Mount Lofty Ranges - Smaller Plants section of the site.



Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

To the British traveller, Arkaroola really does seem like a Martian landscape, with its barren red-rock hillsides with sparse mulga trees and spinifex.

Lysiana exocarpi


Lysiana exocarpi is a common mistletoe across Australia.



Acacia victoriae (Elegant Wattle)


The thin papery pods and flat, curved, glaucous phyllodes help to identify this common inland Acacia of semi-arid regions.   Its alternative name of Bramble Wattle comes from the spiny branches and spiny trunk, which can't be seen in this photo. 

Thanks to Helen Vonow for the identification.