Habitat-distinctions of plants with fleshy fruits in and near Fitzgerald River National Park, southwestern Western Australia

Various species of plants with fleshy fruits occur in/near Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitzgerald_River_National_Park), in southwestern Australia.

The incidence of fleshy fruits, as opposed to other kinds of diaspores, may be related to the nutritional regime of the substrates in question.

In this Post, I summarise the pattern of habitat-preference by these plants. The sources are mainly those of K R Newbey (https://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=Newbey+kr+fitzgerald&btnG=), together with my own observations.

Occurring patchily on calcareous substrates are

Coastal, calcareous dunes have

The following spp. are shared between calcareous sand and alluvium:

By contrast, alluvium has

Brachyloma geissoloma (https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/30138 and https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:77175904-1) is poorly documented, but occurs, on alluvium/granite.

The only spp. potentially bearing fleshy fruits on quartzite are two spp. of Ericaceae, viz.

It is noteworthy that no species of Persoonia seems to occur on oligotrophic soils in/near FRNP.

On spongolite there are

On duplex substrates (sand over clay, presumably with mallee-heath) there are

Still to allocate: Billardiera heterophylla (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/75769-Billardiera-heterophylla and https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Billardiera~heterophylla)


Tetragonia implexicoma https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/141515353


The fruits of these plants (whIch, like Tetragonia, are semi-halophytic) are typically bright-hued but small. Those of Chenopodium spp. are known to be eaten by Gavicalis virescens (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/370319-Gavicalis-virescens), which is probably an important seed-disperser for these plants.

Atriplex semibaccata https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/141170957
Chenopodium baccatum https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/129952340
Chenopodium wilsonii https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/109633708
Enchylaena tomentosa https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/139504726
Threlkeldia diffusa https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/70989013


Alyxia buxifolia https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/126043362


Dianella revoluta https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/126035684


The fruits of these plants are all small.

Leucopogon parviflorus https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/142027641


Nitraria billardierei https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/107748929

Myoporum oppositifolium https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/16063240


These plants are all hemiparasitic.

Exocarpos aphyllus https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/135477566
Exocarpos sparteus https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/105075520
Santalum murrayanum https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/135771476


Alluvium and calcareous sand in/near FRNP, although nutrient-poor by global comparisons, are not as poor as other substrates in the area. Both have considerable floras of fleshy fruits.

The sites richest in spp. with fleshy fruits are likely to be where granitoid-derived alluvia merge with coastal dunes at inlets near the sea (e.g. Culham Inlet, see https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/milewski/62402-shrubland-ambivalent-in-its-syndromes-of-dissemination-by-animals-a-base-rich-littoral-site-at-fitzgerald-river-national-park-southwestern-australia#).

Ericaceae with fleshy fruits occur mainly on alluvia in/near FRNP. However, some may occur on granite substrates.

The following (https://tasmanianplants.wordpress.com/2009/12/25/haveya-had-ya-heaths/) gives an idea of the nature of ericaceous fleshy fruits in Tasmania. Those in/near FRNP are far more poorly developed: none has conspicuous fruits, and all are as likely to be dispersed by ants and lizards as by volant birds. The genera involved, particularly Styphelia, show a pattern in which

  • the fruits tend to be small, dull, and hidden, and
  • the spp. with the most conspicuous fruits tend to occur in the Eastern States, not Western Australia.

Also see https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/68420-unusual-combination-of-features-in-ericaceae-the-case-of-acrotriche-serrulata#.

Posted by milewski milewski, November 25, 2022 10:22 PM





The above is a reference for the following.

There is a considerable incidence of fleshy fruits in mallee and eucalypt woodland Iver heath. These tend to be ericas (which combine fleshy fruits with foliar spinescence and sclerophylly) and semi-halophytes.

These plants are not stimulated to flower or fruit by wildfire.

Acrotriche regenerates vegetatively. However, it is surprisingly short-lived, as is 'Astroloma' (probably now Styphelia), whereas Brachyloma and Leucopogon regenerate germinatively (probably living only 25-50 years).

However, probably all of these are late-stage regenerators after wildfire.

Dianella and Chenopodium with fleshy fruits may live up to 100 years, and may be common as understorey to tall plants of Eucalyptus.

Posted by milewski 2 months ago (Flag)

Is the fruit (possibly the same as https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/138481358) fleshy in the following species? Or is it papery and dehiscent?

Marianthus bicolor https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/975080-Marianthus-bicolor


Locations recorded include '5 miles north of Hopetoun', 'east side of East Mt Barren', and around Ravensthorpe.

Posted by milewski 2 months ago (Flag)


In early February 1982 (profusely in full fruit) and late November 1991 (starting to fruit), I observed this species at a location adjacent to Culham Inlet, i.e. between https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21312796 and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110064989.

This is a clonal stand on the steep slope of a partly bare littoral dune. Acacia cyclops (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/75249-Acacia-cyclops) occurred nearby, but was devoid of diaspores at the time.

The fruits of N. billardierei are palatable, round, glossy, cherry-red, much bigger than a pea, with a single oblong stone, to which a bit of fruit-pulp adheres after the rest is chewed off. The taste resembles that if a plum, but not as sweet and slightly salty.

On 8 Feb. 1982, the following spp. of birds were present:
a few individuals of Gavicalis virescens (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/370319-Gavicalis-virescens)
group of >10 of Phylidonyris novaehollandiae longirostris (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/12632-Phylidonyris-novaehollandiae), seen pecking at the fruits but not swallowing them
group of >10 of Anthochaera lunulata (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/12621-Anthochaera-lunulata), a species observed also in Melaleuca lanceolata (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/465912-Melaleuca-lanceolata) at Hopetoun caravan park; seen swallowing the whole fruits of N. billardierei on 5 occasions
Zosterops lateralis (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/131846154); this species is far too small-bodied to swallow the whole fruit of N. billardierei; however, I observed peck-marks attributable to it.

In early October 1983, I visited this same patch again. The plants were in full flower, with a few early fruits.

Posted by milewski 2 months ago (Flag)

Dromaius novaehollaniae disperses and sows Nitraria billardierei:


Posted by milewski 2 months ago (Flag)

Santalum spicatum (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/34149037) is uncommon and at the edge of its distribution near Fitzgerald River National Park (pers. obs.).

Posted by milewski 2 months ago (Flag)


A species with fleshy fruits, occurring at the littoral near Fitzgerald River National Park, is Alyxia buxifolia (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/58828269).

Although this shrub is generally associated with the littoral zone throughout southern Australia, it also occurs inland under certain conditions. A crucial aspect of the environment is relative protection from wildfire.

For example, in Karroun Hill Nature Reserve (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karroun_Hill_Nature_Reserve), A. buxifolia is widespread in association with Eucalyptus loxophleba (10-15 m high) and Callitris columellaris (5-8 m high). Other spp. in the same understorey are several acacias including Acacia acuminata, Acacia resinomarginea, Hakea recurva, and an uncommon species of Santalum. In open parts of this community, the herbaceous daisy Lawrencella rosea occurs. The soil is red earth (deep, not skeletal) over granite.

Posted by milewski about 2 months ago (Flag)
Posted by milewski about 1 month ago (Flag)

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