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Species profile—Phebalium distans (Mt Berryman phebalium)


Plantae (plants) → Equisetopsida (land plants) → RutaceaePhebalium distans (Mt Berryman phebalium)

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Species details

Plantae (plants)
Equisetopsida (land plants)
Scientific name
Phebalium distans P.I.Forst.
Common name
Mt Berryman phebalium
WildNet taxon ID
Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) status
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) status
Critically endangered
Back on Track (BoT) status
Conservation significant
Pest status
Short Notes
two sheets plus spirit
Phebalium distans is a small tree that grows to 8 m tall and up to 15 cm in diameter, with grey, mottled bark that is distinctly rough and flaky and has a strong aromatic scent. The branchlets are sparsely glandular-tuberculate with a dense covering of trichomes. The leaves are simple, strongly aromatic, alternate, linear 14 to 62 mm long by 1.5 to 4.5 mm wide, with a length/width ratio of 7.7 to 15.5. The leaves are shiny, mid to dark green on the upper surface, paler on the underside, with a dense covering of silvery brown and bronze scales, strongly aromatic when crushed. The petioles are 1.7 to 3 mm long by 0.5 to 0.8 mm wide. The flowers are cream, star-shaped with pointed petals 4 to 5 mm long by 3 to 4 mm wide. The pedicels are 4 to 5 mm long by about 0.5 mm diameter, with dense trichomes. The flowers are borne in clusters mostly during spring and summer, but will flower in response to moderate rainfall. The fruit is a warty, green cocci (2 lobed capsule that separates on maturity), 3.5 to 4 mm long by 2.5 to 3 mm wide. The seed is slightly kidney-shaped and grey to black in colour. This species, as with all Phebalium species, has small seed that is shed locally from the capsular fruit with little apparent long-range dispersal ability.
Although individuals of Phebalium distans may be initially shrub like, they will eventually form small trees up to 8 m high with a stem up to 15 cm in diameter. This tree habit is quite unique in the genus Phebalium. The flowers of P. distans are always cream (ageing cream-fawn), and the species is always found in semi-evergreen vine thicket on red volcanic soils or in communities adjacent to this vegetation type. (Forster, 2003).
View Map
Phebalium distans occurs in a few isolated patches around Mt Berryman near Laidley, the Walla Range at Coalstoun Lakes, the Mt Jones Plateau complex of the Booie Range at Kingaroy and the plateau complex of the Speedwell Range near Proston (Queensland Herbarium, 2012).
Distributional limits
-25.5102222, 151.4635
-27.7200755, 152.3453104
Range derivation
Range derived from extent of the taxon's verified records
Phebalium distans is found on red soils in vineforest, semi-evergreen vine thicket and open forest ecosystems and ecotones, generally above 200 m elevation. Associated species include Acacia disparrima subsp. disparrima, Croton insularis, Phebalium nottii, Flindersia australis, Owenia venosa, Flindersia spp., Denhamia parvifolia, Capparis spp., Carissa ovata (Queensland Herbarium, 2012).
The capsular fruit produce small seeds that have a limited dispersal ability. Plants become sexually mature after they reach 1-2 m in height. The plant has never been recorded as reproducing vegetatively, and medium-term monitoring indicates that this species does not readily reproduce under disturbance regimes, and never as a result of fire (DSEWPC, 2012).
Phebalium distans flowers mainly in spring and summer, but will flower in response to rainfall. Fruiting generally occurs during late summer and early autumn (DSEWPC, 2012; Queensland Herbarium, 2012).
Threatening processes
The main identified threats to Phebalium distans include vegetation clearing, road works and roadside maintenance. Additional threats include urban development, fire events and weed invasion.
Other potential threats to Phebalium distans include the drift of agricultural chemicals, erosion, soil compaction due to human traffic, dumping of rubbish, inappropriate modification of its habitat, vandalism and climate variability (DERM, 2010a; DERM, 2010b; DSEWPC, 2012).
Status notes
Phebalium distans is listed as Endangered under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 and Critically Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
Management recommendations
Priority actions for the recovery and management of Phebalium distans include: ensure infrastructure activities do not adversely impact on known populations; investigate formal conservation arrangements such as the use of covenants, conservation agreements or inclusion in reserve tenure, especially of road reserves; develop and implement weed management actions, target Guinea Grass and Climbing Asparagus; develop and implement a suitable fire management strategy; raise awareness of this species with local groups and discourage the practice of clearing lower and mid stratum scrub; investigate options for linking, enhancing or establishing additional populations; improve understanding of biology, disturbance response and factors affecting recruitment; monitor known populations and the effectiveness of management actions; and suitably control access to known sites (DERM, 2010a; DERM, 2010b; DSEWPC, 2012).
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPC) (2012). Phebalium distans in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra. Accessed 29/05/2012.
Forster, P.I. (2003). Phebalium distans P.I.Forst. (Rutaceae), a new and endangered species from south-eastern Queensland, and reinstatement of P. longifolium S.T.Blake. Austrobaileya 6 (3): 438-441.
Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) (2010a). Burnett Mary Natural Resource Management Region Back on Track Actions for Biodiversity. Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane.
Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) (2010b). South East Queensland Natural Resource Management Region Back on Track Actions for Biodiversity. Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane.
Queensland Herbarium (2012). Specimen label information. Queensland Herbarium. Accessed 20/03/2012.
Profile author
Ronald Booth (09/07/2012)

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

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

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
7 September 2021
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