Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Chenopod Shrublands

This type of arid zone habitat has a vegetation type that is composed mostly of many species of  Chenopodiaceae - bluebush and saltbush. Between them, they have produced species that can thrive in virtually any type of niche on any type of arid zone soil.  It covers a large part of the arid zone, 8 % (434,000 square kilometres). The areas where they dominate are very arid, but these plants come closer to the succulent cactus found elsewhere in the world than other Australian sclerophyll plants. These shrublands are very deceptive as far as nutrients go. They look as though very few animals could survive there, but they support large numbers of kangaroos and sheep as well as vast numbers of herbivorous insects like grasshoppers. They are very nutritious, allowing the grazing herbivores to thrive in these areas. There are some scattered trees and even some patches of woodland, but they are comparatively minor part of these areas.

This type of ecosystem gets good rain only rarely. When it does come the water can spread out in shallow sheets over the flat area. These plants get nutrients from deep roots, so rely less on the nutrition levels in the surface soils. The chenopod vegetation (saltbush & bluebush) is highly xerophytic - adapted to survive in extremely dry conditions where water is available only intermittently, the rainfall being very erratic. As a result of their productivity, even in these arid areas, and their palatability to both native animals and introduced animals like sheep and feral rabbits, they can be heavily grazed. This leads to a high degree of patchiness, both in area and time.

Sources & Further reading

  • Mary E. White, The Greening of Gondwana, the 400 Million Year story of Australian Plants, Reed, 1994
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading