Heathy Dry Forest (EVC 20)
By Murray Ralph
Heathy Dry Forest near Shepherds Flat (photo by Tibor Hegedis)
Heathy Dry Forest is found on gently undulating hills to steeper slopes and ridge tops with shallow, skeletal soils with low fertility and water-holding capacity. This EVC has a scattered occurrence to the north, north-west and north-east of Daylesford, including in the Hepburn, Porcupine Ridge and Shepherds Flat areas. It is also common in the Hepburn Regional Park and the Lerderderg State Park.
The overstorey is generally a low open Eucalypt forest to 20m tall. On the steeper slopes and ridges common overstorey tree species include Long–leaf Box (Eucalyptus goniocalyx), Red Box (Eucalytptus polyanthemos) and Red Stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha).
All EVC are assigned a conservation significance based on the extent to which they have been cleared from their former range. Heathy Dry Forest is classified as being of 'least concern'. However, many areas of this EVC have been subjected to a history of burning, clearing, logging or mining. The main current threats to this EVC include climate change, firewood and post harvesting, fuel reduction burning and weed invasion.
On more gentle slopes common species include Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora), Candlebark (Eucalyptus rubida), Scent Bark (Eucalyptus aromaphloia), Broadleaf Peppermint (Eucalyptus dives) and Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua).
The shrub layer is very variable, depending on site characteristics and management history. Generally it is dominated by narrow-leaved shrubs, including Peas and Heaths. Larger shrubs include Wirilda (Acacia retinoides) and Drooping Cassinia (Cassinia arcuata). Smaller shrubs and sub-shrubs include Daphne Heath (Brachyloma daphnoides), Common Hovea (Hovea linearis), Common Beard-heath (Leucopogon virgatus), Honey Pots (Acrotriche serrulata), Creeping Bossiaea (Bossiaea prostrata) and Pink Bells (Tetratheca ciliata).
The ground layer is generally sparse with a low diversity of scattered native herbs and grasses. The most common herbs are Common Raspwort (Gonocarpus tetragynus), Button Everlasting (Helichrysum scorpioides) and Variable Stinkweed (Operularia varia). Common grasses include Grey Tussock-grass (Poa sieberiana) and Silvertop Wallaby-grass (Joycea pallida). Other common species include Mat-rushes (Lomandra spp.), Black-anther Flax Lily (Dianella revoluta) and Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictus). Thatch Saw Sedge (Gannia radula) may occur in some areas.