Forest Flora – Chingia australis
#ForestFlora: Chingia, from the family Thelypteridaceae, is a small genus of about 20 species that are found throughout Melesia (south-east Asian mainland and archipelagos stretching to New Guinea) and eastwards to Tahiti. Chingia australis – the only Australian representative of the genus – is endemic to north Queensland and is classified as endangered under both the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC).
This terrestrial, tree-like fern grows to approximately 60 cm tall and 10 cm in diameter. The fronds are up to 2.6 m long, are bright green in colour, and during immaturity they produce a glandular secretion that has a distinctive spicy odour that can irritate mucous membrane.
Chingia australis is only distributed between two areas of rainforest habitat: in and around Wooroonooran National Park (approximately 25 km west of Innisfail) and in four locations in the vicinity of the Daintree National Park (originally five, however one of these populations is known to have become extinct since it’s discovery in May 2000). The exact locations of all populations are held by the Queensland Herbarium to protect against illegal collection.
It is not known whether new populations are established by airborne spores, or if spores persist in the soil for long periods of time germinating only when the right conditions are in place, but it’s a known fact that this fern produces large quantities of spores.
Current threats to Chingia australis include weeds, clearing, and feral pigs.
- Chingia australis is believed to be a soil disturbance pioneer.
- The richest concentrations of ferns and allies in Australia are found in the Wet Tropics (WTMA Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy 2004).
Information sourced from Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
Chingia Australis Frond © G. Sankowsky and Chingia Australis Sori (groups of sporangia which contain spores) © CSIRO
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