I was delighted to find a group of these plants, flowering their little hearts out, in the Allora Mountain Flora and Fauna Reserve today.
I had not seen the plant in the wild before, so it was a treat to have found it looking its annual best, smothered in exquisite little flowers.
The name “anchor plant” comes from its neatly paired anchor-like thorns, which make the species a rather unfriendly one! A specimen growing in Peacehaven Botanic Park at Highfields demonstrates that it can be an attractive, well-shaped plant, nonetheless.
Though somewhat more common down south, this is a rare plant in Queensland and has been classified as “near threatened”, a listing which means it has declined in the wild to the point where it relies on conservation measures to ensure its survival here.
This group of plants, which I believe to be the only plants in this flora and fauna reserve, seemed to consist only of old specimens, most containing a significant proportion of dead wood. The reserve showed signs of being heavily grazed by cattle, and the conclusion that they might be preventing regeneration of new anchor plant seedlings was unavoidable. Conservation can only be effective if the targeted plants are able to produce a new generation. That the reserve might be failing to achieve one of the purposes for which it was declared certainly seemed to be a possibility there.