HELPING HAND: Pictured planting a rare coastal fontainea tree at Skennars Head are, (from left) Bob Smeaninx of Bushland Restoration Services, Pat Cawley, co-ordinator of the Lennox Head Landcare Group and Diane Brown, threatened species officer with the Office of Environment and Heritage, Coffs Harbour.
HELPING HAND: Pictured planting a rare coastal fontainea tree at Skennars Head are, (from left) Bob Smeaninx of Bushland Restoration Services, Pat Cawley, co-ordinator of the Lennox Head Landcare Group and Diane Brown, threatened species officer with the Office of Environment and Heritage, Coffs Harbour. Megan Kinninment

Rare Lennox plant being brought back from edge of extinction

AN extremely rare plant that only grows in Lennox Head is being brought back from the brink of extinction.

The critically endangered fontainea oraria (coastal fontainea) (Jessup and Guymer) is one of Australia's rarest rainforest trees and was only discovered in 1982 and is only found in four small populations at Lennox Head.

Since discovering the plant, conservationists have been working to save it from extinction, with the total wild population comprising just 10 adults and 45 seedlings and juveniles.

As part of National Threatened Species Day, members of the Lennox Head Landcare Group, along with bush regeneration and threatened species experts, planted 10 young fontainea plants in a secluded area at Skennars Head.

The coastal fontainea seedlings were planted during the 'On the Edge' community planting day to help restore the important littoral rainforest and grassy headlands.

While 10 coastal fontainea seedlings might not sound like many, in terms of the total population it is substantial given it's arguably the rarest tree in NSW.

"These young plants were raised from cuttings from the remaining adult trees we have," Office of Environment and Heritage threatened species officer Diane Brown said.

"The fontainea will grow to around eight to 10 metres, and there are female and male trees," she said.

"At first we thought there was only one adult female left, but we have since discovered a second female.

"It's so unique and has intrinsic value as part of our rich biodiversity, so we don't want to lose them."

The Lennox Head Landcare Group and students from Xavier College helped plant other native species at Skennars Head as part of ongoing restoration of the headland with the help of a $500 donation from the Golden Oldies Rugby Union team.


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