Valley Grassy Forest (EVC 47)

By Murray Ralph

Valley Grassy Forest, northern Wombat Forest

Valley Grassy Forest, northern Wombat Forest (photo by Gayle Osborne)

Valley Grassy Forest has a scattered occurrence in drier sections of the Wombat State Forest where rainfall is below 800mm per annum. It usually occurs on valley floors on alluvial soils (soils that have been deposited in the valleys by erosion) and at altitudes less than 600m above sea level. The valleys may be dry or carry an intermittent stream or drainage line.

The overstorey is comprised of a variety of eucalypts, usually species that prefer more moist or fertile conditions when compared to those in surrounding drier habitats.

These include Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora), Candlebark (Eucalyptus rubida), Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua) and Narrow-leaf Peppermint (Eucalyptus radiata). Apart from Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata) the shrub layer is virtually non-existent.

The ground layer is dominated by a dense sward of Common Tussock-grass (Poa labillardieri). Other grasses that may occur include Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides), and Grey Tussock-grass (Poa sieberiana), Plume Grasses (Dichelachne spp), Common Wheat-grass (Elymus scabrous) and Wallaby Grasses (Austrodanthonia spp).

Between the grass tussocks grow a diversity of native herb species. These will vary depending on moisture levels, and include Cinquefoil Cranesbil (Geranium potentilloides), Hairy Pennywort (Hydrocotyle hirta), Blue Pincushion (Brunonia australis), Ivy-leaf Violet (Viola hederacea), Kidney Weed (Dicondra repens), Common Largenifera (Largenifera stipitata), Austral bugle (Ajuga australis), Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictus) and Austral Bracken (Pteridium esculatum). Grassy Valley Forest usually occurs adjacent to drier forests, such as Heathy Dry Forest and Grassy Dry Forest.

All EVC are assigned a conservation significance based on the extent to which they have been cleared from their former range. Valley Grassy Forest is classified as being vulnerable. The main current threats to this EVC in the Wombat State Forest include climate change, weed invasion, firewood collection, altered hydrology and fuel reduction burning.