Tasmanian Vegetation Types
Rainforest and related scrub
Wet eucalypt forest and woodland
Dry eucalypt forest and woodland
Non-eucalypt forest and woodland
Highland treeless vegetation
Wetlands and saltmarsh
Moorland, sedgeland, rushland and peatland
Scrub, heathland and coastal complexes
Tasmanian rainforest is structurally and floristically variable and it is defined by the presence of species of any of the genera Nothofagus, Atherosperma, Eucryphia, Athrotaxis, Lagarostrobos, Phyllocladus or Diselma. Occasionally some understorey species, for example Anodopetalum biglandulosum or Richea pandanifolia, may occur as dominants. Much rainforest falls within the structural definition of closed-forest but some types, such as scrub rainforest and subalpine rainforests, do not fit this category. Rainforest occurs from sea level to about 1 200 m. Tasmanian cool temperate rainforest has affinities with rainforests in south-east Australia, New Zealand and the Andean region of southern Chile and Argentina. One notable difference is that Tasmanian rainforest has a lower diversity of tree species.
Eucalypt forests and woodlands cover much of the Tasmanian landscape, with the greatest diversity of Eucalyptus species occurring in the south-east of the State. Eucalyptus vernicosa is a dwarf shrub that may be prominent in alpine heath, but most Eucalyptus species dominate wet forests, dry forests and mixed forests. The wet eucalypt woodlands in many cases exist only in areas where many trees have died of old age and there has been no recruitment because of the absence of significant disturbance. Commonly these “woodlands” occur as emergent Eucalyptus species over a rainforest canopy. In several of the higher altitude woodland types, the woodland form may be due to natural disturbance, coupled with the sparseness of seedling establishment. The wet eucalypt communities are relatively easily distinguished by the dominant Eucalyptus species or the Eucalyptus species in the canopy, sometimes in combination with a description of the type of understorey. Understorey includes any of the following: a) Nothofagus, Atherosperma, Athrotaxis, Eucryphia, Phyllocladus or Lagarostrobois prominent as secondary trees or shrubs; b) a tree or tall shrub layer dominated either by species with leaves more than 1 cm wide or species of Leptospermum or Melaleuca, c) a layer dominated by ferns other than bracken.
Dry eucalypt forests and woodlands cover much of the central and eastern parts of the Tasmanian landscape, with the greatest diversity of eucalypt species in the south-east of the State. Understorey predominantly hard-leaved shrubs, and/or a ground layer dominated by bracken, grasses or graminoids.
These forest and woodland communities are grouped together either because they are native forests and woodlands not dominated by eucalypt species or because they do not fit into other forest groups. If there is a functional attribute most share, it is the widespread initiation of even-aged stands by fire and the ability of many of them to form closed–canopy forests. Some of these communities have been referred to as “dry rainforests”...The boundaries between many of these communities are gradational, but some are sharply marked, often by changes in topography that reinforce different fire intervals. Some communities are distinctive in the field because one species dominates the canopy and forms a pure stand. The understorey in all these communities is generally sparse. The species dominating these communities are common components of many eucalypt-dominated communities and rainforest communities.
Highland treeless vegetation communities occur within the alpine zone where the growth of trees is impeded by climatic factors. The altitude above which trees cannot survive varies between approximately 700 m in the south-west to over 1 400 m in the north-east highlands; its exact location depends on a number of factors. In many parts of Tasmania the boundary is not well defined. Sometimes tree lines are inverted due to exposure or frost hollows. Alpine vegetation is generally treeless, although there may be some widely scattered trees, generally less than two metres high. Several types of vegetation dominated by small trees, particularly conifers or shrubs, may occur in sheltered areas in the alpine zone.
- From Forest to Fjaeldmark - Descriptions of Tasmanian Vegetation (Chapter 4, Page 34)
Native grasslands are defined as areas of native vegetation dominated by native grasses with few or no emergent woody species. Different types of native grassland can be found in a variety of habitats, including coastal fore-dunes, dry slopes and valley bottoms, rock plates, and subalpine flats. The lowland temperate grassland types have been recognised as some of the most threatened vegetation communities in Australia. Vegetation dominated by native grasses (with cover > 25% native species; includes lowland grassy sedgelands dominated by either Lomandra longifolia, Diplarrena moraea or Lepidosperma spp.)
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems on earth, fulfilling many environmental and socio-economic functions. They act as breeding grounds for many species of fish, water birds, amphibians and insects. Many wetlands are important as stopover points for migratory bird species. Plant communities in wetlands filter water and disperse heavy flow in times of flood. Saltmarshes are saline types of wetlands. They occur predominantly on low-energy coastlines where wave action does not hinder the establishment of vascular plants. In Tasmania the best examples can be seen in sheltered inlets and bays on the east and south coasts, with other large areas present in the far north-west
of the State and on some of the Bass Strait islands. These systems are also highly productive, as they receive nutrient inputs from the land and are regularly flushed by the sea. See also:
Vegetation dominated or co-dominated by buttongrass, sedges, rushes or Sphagnum (includes alkaline pans, daisy pans and areas dominated by Diplarrena latifolia).
- From Forest to Fjaeldmark - Descriptions of Tasmanian Vegetation (Section: Native grassland; and saltmarsh and wetland)
Scrublands, heathlands and the diverse complexes that they can form when growing together are, with a few notable exceptions, typically dominated by scleromorphic species. The structure of these communities varies from very dense with 100% cover, to open with as low as 30% cover. They range in height from a few centimetres to over eight metres in favourable conditions.
The wide range of rock types, tidal ranges and rainfall around Tasmania has produced an exceptionally wide variety of estuary, coastal wetland and lagoon types in a relatively small area. The combination of sheltered conditions and inputs from both marine and terrestrial sources means that wetlands, saltmarshes, intertidal seagrass meadows and other foreshore flats inside coastal inlets are also particularly rich in the variety and abundance of species of plant and animal life. These areas act as nurseries for many marine species and possess high productivity that supports flora and fauna.
Native Plant Species
Forest Practices Board - Useful References for Forest Flora
FPA - Forest Flora Notes
FPA Forest Botany Manual
FPA Plant Identification Kit
The Little Book of Common Names for Tasmanian Plants