Sunshine Coast myrtle
Lenwebbia sp. Blackall Range 

Sunshine Coast myrtle

An endangered local plant being conserved through a project to build tolerance to myrtle rust.

The Sunshine Coast myrtle (Lenwebbia sp. Blackall Range) is an undescribed species listed as endangered under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. The species is endemic to the Sunshine Coast region and only occurs in a handful of unconnected patches of remnant rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest. The Maroochy Bushland Botanic Garden is playing an important role in the conservation of this plant.

The plant forms a spindly shrub or small tree growing to a height of 6m. The leaves are opposite, elliptical in shape and grow to 6cm in length. The plant produces small, round purple to black berries in mid spring.

The invasive fungus, myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii) is a significant threat to trees and shrubs in the Myrtaceae family including the Sunshine Coast myrtle. One of the ways myrtle rust affects the survival of plant species is by reducing the number of seeds produced and consequently the number of seedlings that result. Myrtle rust is one of the key reasons why the Sunshine Coast myrtle is threatened with extinction.

The Sunshine Coast Council and the Department of Environment and Science are working to conserve the Sunshine Coast myrtle by propagating plants from populations that have shown natural tolerance to myrtle must. The resulting seedlings are then being planted across multiple conservation sites on the Sunshine Coast. The aim is to encourage and build myrtle rust tolerance in natural populations of the Sunshine Coast myrtle. The Maroochy Bushland Botanic Garden provides the perfect habitat requirements and is one of the planting sites for the seedlings. The plants will provide an accessible site for continued research to aid species conservation.