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Beautiful King Blue

Rebecca Diete (Ecologist)
Published 28 Apr 2020 by Rebecca Diete (Ecologist)

Have you heard of bluegrass before? And not the genre of American roots music…!

There is a group of native Australian grass species called bluegrass; some of which are found on Carnarvon Station Reserve in central Queensland where I live and work.

Bluegrass (Dichanthium spp.) is a tufted perennial grass that's highly palatable to stock. Activities such as grazing, cropping and mining have led to some bluegrass ecosystems becoming listed as Threatened Ecological Communities, such as the Queensland Bluegrass on clay soil ecosystem on Carnarvon.

As Carnarvon was a pastoral station for 150 years, its bluegrass community was significantly impacted by grazing and cultivation. Now that these threats have been alleviated over the past 20 years, these ecosystems are regenerating.

Recently, we recorded an abundance across Carnarvon’s grasslands of a different bluegrass species to the usual Queensland Bluegrass that grows there. After sending a sample to the Queensland Herbarium, botanists confirmed that it's the species King Bluegrass (Dichanthium queenslandicum), which is listed as endangered at a federal level and Vulnerable at a state level.

Mapping shows that it stretches across 25 km of Carnarvon and that it constitutes a range extension for King Blue compared to previous records.

We're thrilled to know that our management of the reserve has allowed yet another threatened species to thrive.

 King Bluegrass (Dichanthium queenslandicum) King Bluegrass (Dichanthium queenslandicum)
 King Bluegrass records in the Atlas of Living Australia. King Bluegrass records in the Atlas of Living Australia.

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