Herb-Rich Foothill Forest (EVC 23)

By Murray Ralph

Typical Example of Herb-Rich Foothill Forest

Typical Example of Herb-Rich Foothill Forest (photo by Tibor Hegedis)

This EVC occurs on both fertile soils derived from basalt and the less fertile soils derived from Ordovician shales and sandstones. Altitude is usually 600-900m above sea level and annual rainfall generally between 800-1000mm per annum.

The overstorey is a medium to tall open forest dominated by Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua) with Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), Narrow-leaf Peppermint (Eucalyptus radiata) and Mountain Gum (Eucalyptus dalrympleana) also common. Understorey trees, including Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) and Cherry Ballart (Exocarpus cupressiformis) may also be present.

The understorey is dominated by a diverse ground layer of forbs and grasses, with a sparse to non-existent shrub layer. Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata) is often the only shrub present, although Narrow-leaf Wattle (Acacia mucronata) and Prickly Currant-bush (Coprosma quadrifida) may also occur.

Common native herbs include Ivy-leaf Violet (Viola hederacea), Bidgee-widgee (Aceana novae-zealandiae), Kidney-weed (Dicondra repens), Hairy Pennywort (Hydrocotyle hirta), Prickly Starwort (Stellaria pungens), Small Poranthera (Poranthera microphylla), Mountain Clematis (Clematic aristata) and Spiny-headed Mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia spp. longifolia).

Common grasses include Common Tussock-grass (Poa labillardierei), Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides) and Forest Wire-grass (Tetrarrhena juncea). Austral Bracken (Pteridium esculentum) is also very common and may often dominate on highly disturbed sites.

Herb-rich Foothill Forest is classified as being as being depleted, due to this EVC being cleared from much of its' former range. The main threats to this EVC include logging, firewood harvesting, fuel reduction burning and weed invasion.