Native plants in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin region is home to an extraordinarily diverse range of native vegetation (flora), with over 2,000 species recorded. Native vegetation refers to any naturally occurring local plant species which are indigenous to Australia, from small ground covers and native grasses to large trees and water plants. About 50% of the region is covered by native vegetation, with around 45% of this contained within national parks, reserves and heritage agreements. However, a quarter of all the plants recorded in South Australia are considered to be threatened, and less than 30% of native vegetation remains in the agricultural areas, with some areas lower than 10%.

Why is flora important?

Native flora is important for many reasons:

  • Ecological value: Australia’s native flora is extraordinarily diverse and many are found nowhere else in the world. As a result, they provide the unique landscapes of the region, provide habitat for native animals, create wildlife corridors, provide shelter belts to protect stock and crops, provide protection from wind and water erosion by holding the soil together, protect water quality; and reduce the greenhouse effect.
  • Economic value: economically, native vegetation and its direct soil and water functions support the productive capacity of many important sectors of the Australian economy, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.
  • Social and cultural value: native vegetation shapes the Australian culture and national identity, and so we want to allow future generations to enjoy our unique environment. For Indigenous Australians, the land and its resources have underpinned Indigenous history, innovation, culture, spirituality and economics for tens of thousands of years.

Why manage flora?

Native vegetation plays a vital role in the health and prosperity of South Australia's ecosystems, communities and natural resource-based industries. As a result, threats to native vegetation have potentially serious consequences for Australia. These include the decline of biodiversity and reduced ecosystem functioning, reduced water quality, increased erosion and salinity, increased greenhouse gas emissions, reduced productivity and impacts on cultural and spiritual identity.

Threats to flora

  • clearance
  • declining ecosystem health
  • fragmentation of ecosystems
  • changed fire patterns, such as changed frequency, intensity and scale of fire
  • changed quantities and patterns in water and water flows
  • unnatural water regimes
  • competition with introduced plants
  • grazing by feral animals and livestock
  • pollution and diseases
  • climate change
  • salinity
  • mining impacts
  • tourism and recreation impacts
  • urban growth

Flora we are working to protect

Coloured spider orchid

Name: Coloured spider orchid
Scientific name: Calendenia colorata
Regional status: Vulnerable
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Metallic sun orchid

Name: Metallic sun orchid
Scientific name: Thelymitra epipactoides
Regional status: Vulnerable
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Monarto mintbush

Name: Monarto mintbush
Scientific name: Prostanthera euryboidies
Regional status: Vulnerable
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Resin wattle

Name: Resin wattle
Scientific name: Acacia rhetinocarpa
Regional status: Vulnerable
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Silver daisy bush

Name: Silver daisy bush
Scientific name: Olearia pannosa ssp pannossa
Regional status: Vulnerable
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Helping flora recover

How you can help

Plan to Plant Indigenous Guide

Planting locally indigenous plants on your property is a great way to help these species. The Plan to Plant Indigenous Guide is an interactive tool that shows the original vegetation and detailed lists of species in the SA Murray-Darling Basin prior to European settlement.

To use the the Plan to Plant Indigenous Guide:

  • click the town nearest to your property or enter the address in the ‘search bar’ in the left hand corner of the screen
  • locate your property on the map and use the zoom tool to move in closer. The colours represent different Plant Communities. ‘Click’ on the area closest to your property. Your property may cover more than one plant community.

Note: plant communities highlighted are provided as a guide only. Many factors, such as soil type, rainfall and land gradient influence the distribution of indigenous plant species, with variation in species mix possible across even small distances. For site specific information contact your local natural resources office.