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Species profile—Corchorus cunninghamii

Classification

Plantae (plants) → Equisetopsida (land plants) → SparrmanniaceaeCorchorus cunninghamii

Photo of Corchorus cunninghamii () - Queensland Herbarium, DES
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Species details

Kingdom
Plantae (plants)
Class
Equisetopsida (land plants)
Family
Sparrmanniaceae
Scientific name
Corchorus cunninghamii F.Muell.
WildNet taxon ID
12604
Alternate name(s)
Cunninghams jute
native jute
Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) status
Endangered
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) status
Endangered
Back on Track (BoT) status
High
Conservation significant
Yes
Confidential
No
Endemicity
Native
Pest status
Nil
Description
Corchorus cunninghamii is a herbaceous shrub growing to 1.5m tall. Stems are often reddish in colour and may be either smooth or covered in minute hairs. The leaves are 5-15cm long, 1.5-5cm wide and attached to stalks 1-2.5cm long. They are characteristically soft, smooth and narrowly ovate to ovate-elliptic in shape, with a finely serrated margin and a tip that tapers to an obvious point. Leaves are three-veined from near their base and arranged alternately along the stem. The growths at the base of the leaf stalk, called stipules, measure up to 1mm in length, are ovate, red, fleshy and hairless, and have a single nectar secreting pore under their surface.
The flowers are small and have four yellow, narrow, oval-shaped petals measuring 9-11mm long by 3-5mm wide. Flowers are borne singly or in clusters of 2-7 flowers on a stalk 3-5 mm long arising opposite from the junction of the leaf stalk and stem. Buds are pear-shaped with a diameter of 3-4mm. The green fruiting capsules are narrow, ellipsoid-shaped and measure 1.5-3.5cm long and 4-6mm wide. As the fruiting capsules mature, they darken to a dark brown or black colour. Seeds are elliptical or rounded in shape, matt brown to black and 2-3mm in length. (Halford 1995b; Saunders 2001; DEWHA 2008)
Map
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Distribution
Corchorus cunninghamii occurs naturally within a 120km region between Brisbane, south-east Queensland and Lismore, north-east New South Wales. (Halford 1995b; Herbrecs 2008)
Distributional limits
-27.415073, 152.7927355
-27.8514569, 153.2510654
Range derivation
Range derived from extent of the taxon's verified records
Habitat
Corchorus cunninghamii generally occurs on upper hillslopes or hillcrests at low to mid elevations of 110-430m above sea level. The species is found in the narrow ecotone (area where two habitat types merge) between subtropical rainforest and open eucalypt forest. The vegetative composition and density of the understorey is variable between sites. The location of C. cunninghamii populations shows no association with a particular geology, although soils are shallow, stony and well drained with a loam or clay consistency. (Halford 1995b; Saunders 2001)
Behaviour
Corchorus cunninghamii has a short lifespan of approximately 3-4 years and is capable of reproducing within a year of germinating. Seed germination trials and field observations have indicated that disturbance in the form of heat/fire or mechanical disturbance is necessary to promote the germination of C. cunninghamii seeds. (Halford 1995b; Saunders 2001).
Reproduction
It has been recorded as flowering throughout the year, but the peak flowering period is from November to May. During this period, fruiting capsules appear on the plant. As the capsules mature, they darken in colour and split lengthways to release the seeds. Seeds of Corchorus cunninghamii drop to the ground and are not forcibly ejected from the fruiting capsule, therefore dispersal distances are generally short. Some seed dispersal is also likely to arise through the activity of foraging birds or animals. The species is not capable of vegetative reproduction and its propagation is dependent on the production of seed. Breeding studies/pollination trials indicate that the species is self-incompatible. Effective reproduction of the species is reliant on the pollinator activity of insects such as the introduced honey bee (Apis mellifera), native honeybees or stingless bees (Trigona sp.), sand wasps (Bembix sp.) and possibly ants. (Halford 1995b; Saunders 2001)
Threatening processes
Known threats: Land clearing, habitat loss, weed invasion, inappropriate fire regimes, grazing, recreation and timber harvesting all appear to be contributing to the decline in population numbers (Halford 1995a; NSWNPWS 1999; Saunders 2001; Simmonds 2000; Stewart 2000). Although many of the above-mentioned factors are generally considered threats, it should be noted that some disturbance is necessary for seed germination and as such the impact of these threatening processes needs to be assessed on a site-by-site basis.
Status notes
The species is listed as Endangered under the Queensland Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation, 1994 (Schedule 2, Part 2) and the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995 (Schedule 1). It is also listed as Endangered by the Commonwealth under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999. A recovery plan for the species is currently being prepared in both N.S.W. and QLD (4, 5). In 2001 the estimated population size in QLD was approximately 6000 individuals, which is an increase from the 1032 individuals recorded in 2000 (5, 6).
Management documents
N.S.W. National Parks and Wildlife Service (1999). Corchorus cunninghamii F. Muell. Draft recovery plan.
Saunders, M. (2001). Recovery plan for the endangered native jute species, Corchorus cunninghamii F. Muell. in Queensland (2001 - 2006). Prepared on behalf of the Rainforest Ecotone Recovery Team (RERT). Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.
Management recommendations
Currently under investigation. Refer to the NSW and QLD recovery plans.
Current programs projects
NHT funded project (Endangered Species Program) - 2000-2002.
South East Queensland Rainforest Ecotone Recovery Project - Native Jute (Corchorus cunninghamii)
Notes
Contributors: Marion Saunders 20/12/2001; David Halford, Mellisa Mayhew 27/01/2009
References
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2008). Corchorus cunninghamii in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Accessed 26/09/2008. http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat
Halford, D.A. (1995a). Conservation statement and draft recovery plan for Corchorus cunninghamii F. Muell. Tiliaceae. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Endangered Species Program, Project No. 515.
Halford, D.A. (1995b). Notes on Tiliaceae in Australia, 2. A revision of the simple-haired species of the genus Corchorus L. Austrobaileya 4(3): 308.
Herbrecs (2008). Corchorus cunninghamii, in BriMapper version 2.12. Queensland Herbarium. Accessed 26/09/2008.
N.S.W. National Parks and Wildlife Service (1999). Corchorus cunninghamii F. Muell. Draft recovery plan.
Saunders, M. (2001). Recovery plan for the endangered native jute species, Corchorus cunninghamii F. Muell. in Queensland (2001 - 2006). Prepared on behalf of the Rainforest Ecotone Recovery Team (RERT). Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.
Simmonds, M. (2000). The ecology and conservation of the endangered species Corchorus cunninghamii F. Muell. Honours Thesis. University of Queensland.
Stewart, B. (2000). Population dynamics and disturbance regime requirements of Corchorus cunninghamii. (Stage 1 report). Prepared for the N.S.W. National Parks and Wildlife Service by Landmark Ecological Services Pty Ltd.
Profile author
David Halford (27/01/2009)
Current programs & projects
NHT funded project (Endangered Species Program) - 2000-2002.
South East Queensland Rainforest Ecotone Recovery Project - Native Jute (Corchorus cunninghamii)

Other resources

Species Profile and Threats Database (SPRAT)
The Australasian Virtual Herbarium (AVH)
Atlas of Living Australia

Data source

This profile data is sourced from the QLD Wildlife Data API using the Get species by ID function used under CC-By 4.0
https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species/?op=getspeciesbyid&taxonid=12604

This information is sourced from the WildNet database managed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

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Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
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