Nature Profiles

Flora of Coffin Bay & Lincoln National Parks


Parks of the Eyre Peninsula

Coffin Bay and Lincoln National Parks lie at the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula, about 8 hours' drive from Adelaide.

You can learn more about these places by following the links below:


Acacia longifolia ssp.sophorae (Coastal Wattle)

Coastal Wattle is widespread species, ranging from the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula all the woay round the east coast of Australia to south-eastern Queensland.  It can be recognised by its heavily veined phyllodes, which other species along the coast lack.  A.longifolia ssp.longifolia also occurs in South Australia as a naturalised weed, but occurs inland so the two subspecies are never seen together, and it also has phyllodes broadest below the middle, unlike sophorae, which has phyllodes broadest above the middle.


Acacia cupularis (Coastal Umbrella Bush)

This Acacia is a prominent species at Coffin Bay, and can be seen along much of the southern Australian coast, from southern Western Australia to southern Victoria.  It can be recognised by its thick, flattened, glaucous phyllodes, although several similar species occur in the area, such as Acacia ligulata.  For a long time A.cupularis was considered to be the same species, but A.ligulata normally has broader phyllodes and has a distinct hooked phyllode tip rather than a central tiny spine (known as a mucro) and has yellow-brown branchlets, rather than red-brown.  On coastal cliffs, such as at Coffin Bay, a prostrate form of A.cupularis is often found (see second & third photos).



Prostrate coastal variant

Acacia nematophylla

The phyllodes of A.nematophylla are long and thin, with distinctive hooked tips.  The fairly small flowerheads are borne abundantly along the branches in summer.




Eucalyptus albopurpurea (Port Lincoln Mallee)

One of South Australia's endemic eucalypts, this dense, fairly small mallee is only found at the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula (around Port Lincoln) and along the south coast of Kangaroo Island.  When in flower it is easily recognised by its pink or purple flowers (although KI plants usually have white flowers and are much larger) and glossy adult leaves.  It is the only eucalypt to commonly have purple flowers.



Allocasuarina verticillata (Drooping Sheoak)

It's a dreadful photo, but does at least illustrate the form of this common tree with its thin pendulous foliage.  A.verticillata is a widespread memeber of the genus, found in temperate mainland Australia from the Eyre Peninsula to the central coast of New South Wales, and it is also present in the drier east of Tasmania.


Santalum acuminatum (Quandong)

Well-known as a bush tucker item, Quandong forms a shrub or small tree up to 5m high.  It bears a superficial resemblance to Native Apricot (Pittosporum angustifolium), but Quandong fruits are red rather than orange.  When not in fruit (as here), the fleshy lime-green leaves distinguish it from other similar trees.  P.angustifolium has shiny deep green leaves.



Adriana quadripartita (Bitter Bush)

This unusual-looking shrub is found across coastal southern Australia.  The species is dioecious; this specimen with its fruiting buds is female.


Exocarpos syrticola (Coast Ballart)

Exocarpos is a genus of bizarre-looking semi-parasitic shrubs found in dry coastal areas.  There are several species in the genus; this one is leafless.  The odd fruits are designed to attract birds, which spread the seeds through their droppings.


Leucophyta brownii (Cushion Bush)

This small shrub is a common component of coastal heathland on limestone rock around the southern coast of Australia.  It is commonly cultivated for its silvery foliage.


Ixodia achillaeoides

This shrub is described in the Flora of the Adelaide Hills & Mount Lofty Ranges - Trees & Shrubs section of the site.  You can see a close-up of the foliage here.


Nitraria billardieri (Nitre Bush)

NItre Bush is a widespread, mainly coastal, greyish shrub with distinctive fleshy fruits.  Many botanists consider it an introduced plant to Australia, given the distant African and Asian distribution of other Nitraria species.


Halosarcia sp (Samphire)

There are many Halosarcia species in coastal Australia, and they are difficult to separate without close examination of flowers, seeds and fruits. These plants grow in abundance along shallow lagoon shorelines in Coffin Bay NP.


Melaleuca acuminata ssp.acuminata

This attractive shrub is found throughout all of temperate Australia, and is one of the few Melaleucas found in South Australia.   The other subspecies (websteri) is only found in Western Australia, as are the majority of Melaleuca species.



Olearia axillaris (Coast Daisy-bush)

Coast Daisy-bush is a very common plant at Coffin Bay, and along South Australia's coastline in general.  It can be recognised, even when not in flower, by its linear hairy leaves which are silvery underneath.  This species is often a dominant component of coastal heathland vegetation and can be found the Indian Ocean coast of Western Australia to far south-eastern New South Wales - in fact its distribution is remarkably similar to other coastal plants of Coffin Bay, such as Muehlenbeckia adpressa (see below).


Pimelea serpyllifolia ssp.serpyllifolia

Appearing very different to many of the better-known woodland species of Pimelea, this squat coastal species is common across southern Australia.  On close inspection, the insignificant flowers can clearly be seen to be 4-petalled, showing the plant as a genuine Pimelea.  This species occurs in all southern Australian states, but is endangered in NSW.


Hakea cycloptera (Elm-seed Hakea)

This stunted plant was identified for me as the Eyre Peninsula endemic H.cycloptera.  In better conditions it can form a small shrub; here on the exposed limestone of a coastal cliff the species was ekeing out a living as a crevice-dwelling dwarf.


Leucopogon parviflorus (Coastal Bearded-heath)

This shrub is one of the dominant components of coastal heathland all around the south coast of Australia.  The white berries provide valuable food for birds in the summer.  The tubular, fringed flowers are white (see photo from Aldinga Scrub CP, south of Adelaide here).


Correa pulchella

Endemic to South Australia, this small Correa is found on the southern Eyre Peninsula and south of the Murray River.  Being late winter-flowering like other Correas, I wasn't lucky enough to see the beautiful vivid red flowers on my summer visit.  Thanks to Helen Vonow for the identification.


Rhagodia sp (pressii perhaps)

Several Rhagodia species can be found on the Eyre Peninsula, easily identified by their flattened bright red fleshy fruits.  Individual species are harder to identify though.  This plant could be R.preisii, distinguished by its glabrous perianth.  It has a branched inflorescence (a panicle) unlike some other common Rhagodias, including the common R.candolleanaR.preissii is one of eight Rhagodias found in South Australia, and is widespread in mallee regions of South Australia and much of coastal Western Australia.  Thanks to Helen Vonow for the identification.


Cassinia uncata (Sticky Cassinia)

The common name of this widespread mallee shrub comes from the sticky texture of the leaves.  The shape of the leaves is just as distinct, however, and the inrolled, olive-coloured leaves with a prominent hooked mucronate (spiny) tip help to identify it in the field.  The Eyre Peninsula represents the western limit of this shrub's distribution, which extends east to the shore of the Pacific Ocean in New South Wales.


Scaevola crassifolia (Thick-leaved Fan-flower)

A common sub-shrub of coastal heathland in South Australia, this plant is easily recognised by its fan-shaped flowers, and also by its distinctive toothed fleshy leaves.  The species ranges west along the southern coast of Western Australia.



Goodenia varia (Sticky Goodenia)

The thick, toothed leaves of this Goodenia help to identify it.  The shrub is similar to G.ovata, but is smaller (not more than 1 metre tall), and has thicker, glandular leaves.  G.varia is a common plant along most of South Australia's coast, as well as occurring inland in mallee areas such as the Eyre Peninsula and Murray mallee, where its range extends into adjacent Victoria.


Muehlenbeckia adpressa (Climbing Lingum)

At Coffin Bay, this twining plant is common on the coastal dunes.  It can be recognised not only by its prostrate vine-like habit, but also by its dark green, rather oblong, crinkled leaves.  It is a widespread plant of coastal southern Australia, from south-western WA (where it also ranges far inland) to far south-eastern NSW and northern Tasmania.  In South Australia it occurs along almost the entire coastline.


Atriplex sp (vesicaria or paludosa ssp.cordata)

This Atriplex specimen could be either of these two common species.  A.paludosa is a coastal species, whereas A.vesicaria is also very widespread inland.  Distinguishing between them involves looking closely at appendages on the flowering spikes - A.paludosa lacks any, and A.vesicaria has bladder-like appendages, hence the common name of Bladder Saltbush.


Frankenia pauciflora var.fruticulosa (Common Sea-heath)

Common Sea-heath is present along the entire southern and western coast of Australia, as well as saline inland sites, occuring as a prostrate sub-shrub.  The leaves are very small and in spring and summer the branches are topped singly with whitish-pink five-petalled flowers.


Dampiera rosmarinifolia

It's not a great photo, but I've included it for reference purposes.  D.rosmarinifolia is a common perennial of sandy mallee and scrub habitats throughout South Australia and western Victoria.  This photo doesn't show the distinctive foliage which closely resembles the foliage of culinary Rosemary.  Here the foliage is obscured as the plant is growing through a small specimen of Olearia axillaris (see above for a description of this species).  Thanks to Helen Vonow for the identification.

Growing through Olearia axillaris

Lotus australis (Australian Trefoil)

A widespread creeping plant, this species favours open habitats throughout temperate Australia.


Spinifex sericeus (Hairy / Rolling Spinifex)

This very distinctive plant is a classic resident of sand dunes, and as a species it is important ecologically because its roots stabilise dunes and allow other plants to colonise.  S.sericeus is very widespread in Australia, found in all states except the Northern Territory, and also in New Zealand.  Everywhere it is a coastal species, rather than a grass of inland sandy habitats.




Lincoln National Park

Lincoln NP is slightly different in character to Coffin Bay, being more rocky and less wooded, although at Wanna there is vast stretch of sand dunes similar to the extensive dune systems at Coffin Bay.

Pultenaea sp (unidentified)

Several terete-leaved Pultenaeas are known from Lincoln NP, and it's difficult to decide which one is shown in this photo - it could be P.tenuifolia or the rather variable P.acerosa.  Thanks to Helen Vonow for the identification.



Microcybe pauciflora

Two species of Microcybe are found on the Eyre Peninsula - M.pauciflora and M.multiflora.  The first species (pictured here) is most easily distinguished by its silvery-hairy branchlets, as opposed to the brown branchlets of M.multiflora.  The flowers are the same pale yellow colour in both species, and the Latin names are a little misleading - M.pauciflora (meaning few-flowered) can have just as many flowers in the globular flowerheads as M.multiflora (meaning many-flowered), although it can have fewer sometimes.  The leaves of M.pauciflora are also on short stalks - a feature I admit I can't detect in this plant - whereas the leaves of M.multiflora are sessile.  M.pauciflora is a fairly widespread plant on the Eyre Peninsula and other semi-arid regions of South Australia.  It is also found along the south coast of Western Australia and sparsely in the mallee of north-west Victoria.  Thanks to Helen Vonow for the identification.


Melaleuca decussata (Totem Poles) & Lasiopetalum discolor (Coastal Velvet-bush)

The sessile (stalkless) leaves and fruiting capsules fused in opposite pairs distinguish this fairly common Melaleuca from similar species.  It is abundant on the Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, with scattered populations in southern SA and adjacent western Victoria.  When flowering, it has small purple or pink flower spikes.

The larger leaves in this photo belong to another coastal plant, Lasiopetalum discolor, recognised by its distinctive two-toned leaves (hence the Latin name) - they are bright green above and pale below due to a dense covering of hairs.  It is a common low-growing shrub, and can be found almost anywhere along the South Australian coast.  The species has a rather odd distribution, made of three disjunct populations - one in coastal southern Western Australia, one in South Australia, and another in coastal northern Tasmania.