Forgotten flora

Plant lovers across the country are calling for better recognition for Australia’s native floral species.

A recent study from Macquarie University raised the importance of protecting endangered plant life, which is often overshadowed by Australia’s love for all things cute and cuddly, formally known as ‘zoocentrism’.

Flora from all over WA on show in King’s Park. Photos: Breanna Redhead

Report lead author Matthew Alfonzetti says zoocentrism essentially means people are naturally inclined to care more for animals, due to their similarities to ourselves:

“The human ability to empathise or sympathise with animals is greater than with plants, particularly animals that are anthropomorphic, that is one’s that share qualities with humans, and that just comes from evolutionary history it makes sense to empathise more with something just like us and we don’t have that same connection with plants so they often go under-appreciated,” he says.

Infographic: Breanna Redhead.

Mr Alfonzetti also explains the inevitable ‘vicious cycle’ of ‘pitfall traps’, which prevent researchers from bringing awareness to new issues such as unprotected flora.

“There is a cycle between societal interest and scientific output,” he says.

‘‘When people are interested in a topic, say koalas, then research will be done on that topic because it’s something that’s on the radar, something that’s big, so they’ll put lots of money into scientific output and again people will say ‘wow this is important and this is interesting.’’

Horticultural professional Sabrina Hahn explains how both plants and animals rely on one another to survive.

Sabrina Hahn discusses the interconnected WA ecosystems.

Ms Hahn says brown orchids and other smaller fine plant species are the most at risk in WA due to their petite size, and conservationists simply not being able to find and preserve them.

She also identifies wetlands and marshlands as key areas of declining plant life.

Local conversationist Kelsey Eldridge also raises the concerns of a severe weed infestation in WA from the eastern states, adding to the number of endangered species.

Ms Eldridge runs a volunteer weeding team through the National Reserves Preservation Group in Kalamunda, attempting to help native plant life thrive.

Kelsey Eldridge discusses the affects of weeds on WA’s native flora. Video: Breanna Redhead.