Eminent Central Australian botanist Peter Latz (pictured below) identified and counted them last week.
Two decades ago the block was pretty well overgrown with buffel, some of it waist-high. We fought it with a huge effort of spraying with Roundup, during periods of vigorous growth, and then keeping regrowth in check.
“The land has gone back to what it used to be,” says Mr Latz.
He says winter rains would add about another 20 species.
The multitude of plants is also assisted by the absence of fire over nearly 40 years.
“Native seeds last a long time and native birds bring seeds in. About a dozen breeds of birds can help to bring plants back,” says Mr Latz.
And in turn our multitude of plants bring the birds back: Every morning we wake to the most fabulous chorus of bird song.
This is what Nature Notes, a publication of the Alice Springs Desert Park, says about buffel, a native of eastern Africa and Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India: “In 1961 Government officers and cattlemen started releasing seeds on 31 stations in the Centre, ranging from Mongrel Downs in the northwest and Argadargada in the northeast, down to New Crown and Mt Cavanagh in the south.
“Seeds were also sown in the Alice Springs farm area and at Maggie Springs (Uluru).”
From a conservation point of view it was certainly a very bad call, with buffel now spreading throughout our reserves, national parks and Crown land, pretty well unchecked by authorities. (Google this site for more reports on buffel.)
Kieran Finnane and Erwin Chlanda
PHOTO AT TOP: Ruby Saltbush in fruit.
ABOVE: Simpson Desert Fuschia.
Many native plants in an area previously covered in buffel.
Perennial daisy, one of the few natives that can beat buffel.
Ruby Saltbush narrow leaf.
Oat grass, “No 2 tucker for cows, same value as lucerne,” says Mr Latz.