Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to the Northern Territory, Australia. It extends from the Adelaide River west to the Finniss River and south to the township of Adelaide River, with sporadic occurrences farther south almost to Hayes Creek and Emerald Springs, and in a limited area on Melville Island.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
C. armstrongii is an abundant species, in dense and extensive populations on sand over tertiary laterites in Eucalyptus miniata/E. tetrodonta forests around Darwin. Plants are found under open tropical deciduous woodlands, rarely in rocky situations.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A4ace

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Liddle, D.

Reviewer/s
Donaldson, J.S. & Bösenberg, J.D.

Contributor/s

Justification
Originally regarded as Least Concern due to large numbers extending over a wide range. However, this species has declined due to urban expansion around Darwin and is expected to decline by at least 30% over three generations due to altered fire regimes caused by invasive grasses.

History
  • 2003
    Least Concern
    (IUCN 2003)
  • 2003
    Least Concern
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Population

Population
This species occurs in large populations comprising more than 100,000 plants in total.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Land clearing and inappropriate fire regimes are the main threats. Increased fire intensity, particularly arising from increased fuel load due to invasion of exotic grasses, is expected to result in higher mortality. It is estimated that the rate of clearing and loss due to fires will result in a loss of at least 30% over three generations.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix II of the CITES Appendices. C. armstrongii is found in multiple land tenures including private, government and leasehold. It is found in the following parks and reserves: Berry Springs Nature Park, Black Jungle Conservation Area, Blackmore River Conservation Reserve, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Djukbinj National Park, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, Holmes Jungle Nature Park, Howard Springs Hunting Reserve, Howard Springs Nature Park, Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Manton Dam Recreation Area.
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Wikipedia

Cycas armstrongii

Cycas armstrongii is a species of cycad in the genus Cycas, native to Australia, in the northwest of Northern Territory from the Finniss River in the west to the Arnhem Highway to the east.

The stems reach 3 m (rarely 6 m) tall, with a diameter of 5–11 cm. The leaves are (very unusually for a cycad) deciduous in the dry season (though persistent if grown in moister situations), 55–90 cm long, slightly keeled or flat, pinnate with 100-220 leaflets; the leaflets densely orange-pubescent at first, then glossy bright green above, light green below, 5.5–14 cm long and 4.5–8 mm wide, angled forward at 40 degrees. Mature plants have around 50 leaves in the crown.

The female cones open, with 13–22 cm long sporophylls with 2-4 ovules per sporophyll on a lanceolate triangular lamina with an apical spine. The sarcotesta has a yellow coating when ripe. The male cones are ovoid, orange, 11–20 cm long and 7.5–10 cm diameter, with upper half of cone drawn to a point.

The species is named after the plant collector John Francis Armstrong.

Ecology

Annual grass fires are common in its natural habitats. The species is extremely fire tolerant, and the usually early spring fires initiate a profusion of new leaf growth in the plants, thus the common name, fire fern.

It is one of the most abundant cycads in the world, with a population estimate of over ten million. The conservation status is secure.

References

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