Public snap first photos of elusive rare flower not seen for more than 30 years in Cape Riche

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Scaevola macrophylla specimens found at Cape Riche.
Camera IconScaevola macrophylla specimens found at Cape Riche. Credit: Donna Fowler

A critically endangered wildflower has been spotted for the first time in more than 30 years about 90km north-east of Albany.

The scaevola macrophylla has only been collected four times for the WA Herbarium, with the latest discovery in the Cape Riche area the first time the flower has been photographed in the wild.

It was first discovered in the 1840s by famed botanist James Drummond.

Albany Wildflower Society’s Eileen Croxford collected further samples in 1987 and 1990.

The plant had not been seen since 1990, until an eagle-eyed member of the public snapped a photo of a specimen last month.

The photo was posted to the WA Wildflower Society Facebook page where it was identified by Eileen Croxford’s daughter.

Scaevola macrophylla specimens found at Cape Riche.
Camera IconScaevola macrophylla specimens found at Cape Riche. Credit: Ben Varcoe/DBCA

Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions threatened flora officer Dr Sarah Barrett said a prescribed burn in the area in July last year likely caused the elusive flower to bloom.

“We are assuming it is an only relatively short lived species that set seed in the first few years and then there is a soil stored seed bank which is stimulated after a fire to germinate,” she said.

“We’ve only got two plants at this stage so it is still very rare.”

Dr Barrett said they would take a small sample of the specimens for the Perth Herbarium but encouraged the public to leave the plant be.

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