Natural Grasslands of the Murray Valley Plains

Images ©:
©Georgia Garrard

The native grasslands of the Murray Valley Plains occur within a mosaic of woodlands and wetlands across the southern parts of the Riverina bioregion, the Murray–Darling Depression bioregion and extend to parts of the New South Wales South Western Slopes bioregion. They include the grasslands of the New South Wales Riverina and those on the Northern Plains and Wimmera Plains of Victoria. They are found on heavy-textured or poorly drained grey, brown and red clays soils derived from Quaternary alluvial sediments or, in the case of the Wimmera Plains, tertiary sediments, deposited by the prehistoric Murray River and its tributaries. Murray Valley Plain grasslands are open to closed perennial tussock grasslands dominated by one or more C3 or C4 grasses such as Rytidosperma spp. (Wallaby Grasses), Austrostipa spp. (Spear grasses) and Enteropogon ramosus (Curly Windmill-grass). Perennial intertussock forbs such as Arthropodium spp. (Vanilla-lilies), Bulbine spp. (Bulbine Lilies), Calocephalus sonderi (Pale Beauty-heads), Chrysocephalum spp. (Plains Everlasting), Leptorhynchos squamatus (Scaly Buttons) and Minuria spp. (Minnie Daisies) are common. Unlike most other native grasslands in south-eastern Australia, Themeda triandra (Kangaroo grass) is uncommon or absent. The community has floristic affinities with adjoining drier semi-arid vegetation to the north and west and includes a number of arid zone species at their easterly limit. Commonly, the grasslands of the Murray Valley Plains have members from the Ptilotus and Swainsona genera, a broad variety of chenopods, particularly Maireana (Bluebush) species, and a significant annual forb component that commonly includes species such as Eriochlamys behrii (Woolly Mantle), Goodenia pusilliflora (Small-flower Goodenia), Hyalosperma semisterile (Orange Sunray), Pogonolepis muelleriana (Stiff Cup-flower), Rhodanthe corymbiflora (Grey Sunray), Isoetopsis graminifolia (Grass Cushion) and Triptilodiscus pygmaeus (Common Sunray).

Conservation Status (EPBC Act) 
Critically Endangered
Percent of former extent remaining 
7% in Victoria, 24% in NSW
Bioregions the community occurs in 
Characteristic flora species 

Arthropodium fimbriatum, Arthropodium milleflorum, Asperula conferta, Austrostipa gibbosa, Brachyscome chrysoglossa, Brachyscome dentata, Bulbine bulbosa, Calocephalus citreus, Calotis anthemoides, Calotis scabiosifolia, Cheilanthes spp., Chenopodium desertorum subsp.virosum, Chrysocephalum sp., Craspedia spp., Daucus glochidiatus, Dianella spp., Diuris spp., Drosera spp., Eriochlamys behrii, Eryngium plantagineum, Goodenia gracilis, Goodenia pusilliflora, Hyalosperma glutinosum subsp. glutinosum, Hyalosperma spp., Isoetopsis graminifolia, Leiocarpa panaetioides, Lepidium phlebopetalum, Leptorhynchos orientalis, Leptorhynchos squamatus subsp. squamatus, Leptorhynchos tetrachaetus, Leptorhynchos waitzia, Leucochrysum molle, Levenhookia dubia, Linum marginale, Lomandra effusa, Maireana aphylla, Maireana cheelii, Maireana enchylaenoides, Maireana excavata, Maireana humillima, Maireana pentagona, Microseris spp., Minuria leptophylla, Myriocephalus rhizocephalus, Ophioglossum spp., Pimelea spinescens subsp. spinescens, Plantago drummondii, Plantago gaudichaudii, Pogonolepis muelleriana, Prasophyllum spp., Pterostylis spp., Ptilotus erubescens, Ptilotus nobilis subsp. nobilis, Ptilotus spathulatus, Rhodanthe pygmaea, Sclerolaena napiformis, Swainsona murrayana, Swainsona plagiotropis, Swainsona procumbens, Swainsona sericea, Themeda triandra, Thysanotus spp., Triptilodiscus pygmaeus, Velleia paradoxa, Vittadinia pterochaeta, Wahlenbergia gracilenta, Wurmbea dioica, Wurmbea latifolia subsp. vanessae

Characteristic fauna species 

Hooded Scaly-foot, Curl Snake, Fat-tailed Dunnart, Common Dunnart, Eastern Bearded Dragon, Shingle-back Lizard, Plains-wanderer, Brown Quail, Stubble Quail, Little Button-quail, Red-chested Button-quail, Rufous Songlark, Brown Songlark, Black-shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Crested Pigeon, Willie Wagtail, Australian Magpie, Spotted Harrier, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Southern Whiteface, Giant Banjo Frog, Common Spadefoot Toad, Inland Dotterel, Australian Pratincole, Golden Sun Moth.