Facebook Twitter Flickr Google + Blogger

Australasian Plant Conservation

Originally published in Australasian Plant Conservation 17(4) March - May 2009, p 23

Prostanthera askania. Photo: Doug Beckers

Zac Bissett looking at his discovery. Photo: Doug Beckers

Endangered plant discovered by seven year old boy

Doug Beckers
Department of Environment and Climate Change, Sydney. Email: doug.beckers@environment.nsw.gov.au

Seven year old Zac Bissett has astounded National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) officers with his recent discovery of the threatened mint bush Prostanthera askania in Bouddi National Park. Found only on the Central Coast of New South Wales, P. askania is listed as endangered under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW) and has not previously been found in any conservation reserve.

Local Macmasters Beach residents Zac, and his great aunt Maureen Findlay, discovered the plant while walking in bushland in Bouddi National Park. Zac noticed a nice ‘mint’ smell so he and his great aunt investigated. As the mint bush was not one that Maureen had seen before she referred to a plant identification book.

Discovering that the find was likely to be something of significance, Maureen approached NPWS Bush Regeneration Co-ordinator Deb Holloman to confirm the identification. NPWS Acting Regional Manager Jenni Farrell said that staff were amazed upon hearing of Zac’s discovery.

“For a child so young to show this interest and enthusiasm for the natural environment is just fantastic. With the species listed as endangered this find is highly significant and is actually the first record of an endangered plant in Bouddi National Park.”

Over 500 individual plants have been recorded at the location, making it an important population and extending the known range of the species. The species previously has been recorded within the catchments of Ourimbah Creek, Narara Creek, Dog Trap Gully, Chittaway Creek and Berkeley Creek and Erina and Fires Creeks, with a geographic range of 12 kilometres.

Botanists from the NSW Herbarium met with Zac and Maureen while visiting the site a few weeks later, but the surf was up and Zac couldn’t stay long.