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Flora & Fauna of Central Australia

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Northern Territory, Australia Travel

Central Australia
Flora & Fauna
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  > Fauna
  > Flora

     > Wildflowers

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Flora and Fauna of Central Australia
The arid heart of Central Australia is a beautiful region encompassing endless outback roads, flat horizons, spectacular ranges (some extending for over 600 kms), gorges, chasms, gaps, monolith rocks, huge salt pans, claypans, dry river beds and permanent water holes.

Far from being devoid of life, the region is brimming with unique flora and fauna. During the dry seasons that extend into drought, life clings on. Even then there are wonderful opportunities to see the flora and fauna of this arid landscape.

When it does rain, sometimes the rainfall is so heavy that former dry river beds become raging torrents, mother nature goes into hyper drive and the landscape will turn green, wildflowers and wildlife appear in abundance.

For the plant enthusiasts some of the unique flora include the Desert Oak, Ghost Gum, Dead Finish, the Red Cabbage Palm in Palm Valley, Sturt’s Desert Pea, Mulla Mulla, mallees, mulga, salt bush, and the commonly named spinifex. There is a range of bush tucker plants that include the Bush Banana and the Bush Tomato, although extreme care should be taken with the bush tomato as a number of plants look similar but are poisonous. Both the Alice Springs Desert Park and Olive Pink Botanic Garden have a great living collection of plants.

We also have a range of non-indigenous species, some of which have become invasive weeds. Among the many non-native plants are the buffel grass, ruby dock and a number of melon plants that were introduced by the early explorers.

Following are some images of the flora found in Central Australia. Some plants, such as the Red Cabbage Palm can only be found in small localised area, whilst others such as the spinifex grass can be seen everywhere.

Flora Images

Bush Tucker Plants in Central Australia
Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) © Colin Leel, September 2007
Bush Food in Central Australia

The arid centre is a vast region home to a variety of plant life, from ancient palms and river red gums to Upside-down Plant and the bright Orange Spade Flower.

Among the many plants is a group of that have become increasingly popular with cooks and chefs around the world, these are our ‘Bush Food’. Found throughout Australia, there are many species that grow here in Central Australia, providing a staple of diet for the indigenous inhabitants, before the appearance of Europeans.

See images of bush food in Central Australia.

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Wild Flowers in Central Australia
Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa)
Sturt’s Desert Pea
— Inland form
Sturt’s Desert Pea © Colin Leel, May 2007
Sturt’s Desert Pea
— Northern form
Wild Flowers in Central Australia

Spring is one of the best times to see examples of the many magnificent wildflowers in the arid heart of Central Australia. When there is significant rainfall over the autumn - winter period, the spring wild flower season promises to be spectacular.

The appearance of wildflowers is not restricted to spring, as summer, autumn and winter can also reveal some flowering plants. Not all flowers are large and brightly coloured such as the Sturt’s Desert Pea, so travellers need to keep their eyes peeled to see some of the more minutue flowers, from the small Orange Spade flower to the even smaller Tiny Purslane.

We have examples of wildflowers found at specific locations throughout this site.

See our images of Wildflowers in Central Australia.

Tall Mulla Mulla (Ptilotus exaltatus)
Tall Mulla Mulla
Wire-leaf Mistletoe (Amyema preissii) © Colin Leel, November 2007
Wire-leaf Mistletoe
Orange Spade Flower (Hybanthus aurantiacus)
Orange Spade Flower
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Shrubs and Trees in Central Australia
Striped Mint-bush (Prostanthera striatiflora) © Colin Leel, September 2007
Striped Mint-bush
Dead Finish (Acacia tetragonophylla)
Dead Finish
Shrubs and Trees in Central Australia
Red Mallee (Eucalyptus pachyphylla)
Red Mallee
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Non-Native Plants in Central Australia
Rosy Dock, (Rumex vesicarius) - Boggy Hole (Finke Gorge National Park)
Rosy Dock
  Non Indigenous Plants in Central Australia



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