Plants of the region

Find out about the region's plants and vegetation communities:

Mackay's indigenous plants

Indigenous plants are local native plants.  They are native species that occur naturally in the local area.  There are many benefits to growing indigenous plants.  They are well adapted to local conditions and if planted in the right environment, will usually do well with minimal need for artificial fertilisers and watering.  They provide food and shelter for our native wildlife including birds and butterflies.  As they are part of local ecosystems, they are less likely to become weeds or invade natural areas.  Indigenous plants also contribute significantly to the distinctive local character of an area.

Find out more about growing plants to attract wildlife to your garden (PDF 1.1 MB).  With advice on plant selection and some tender care, its easy to transform your backyard into a low-maintenance wildlife haven.


Mangroves are trees, shrubs, palms or ground ferns, generally larger than half a metre in height, that grows above mean sea level in the intertidal zone of marine coastal environments and estuarine margins.  The term mangrove also refers to the tidal habitat in which these plants grow.

The intertidal zone is a harsh environment and mangrove species are adapted to tolerate these conditions. Mangrove soils are regularly water-logged ad loaded with salt.  High tides bring saltwater inundation, while low tides expose mud and roots to heat and desiccation.  Some plants have aboveground breathing roots to cope with growing in water saturated conditions.  Mangroves also have specialised attributes for growing in salty environments with saturated airless soils. The seeds of some mangrove species germinate on the parent plant and the new seedling remains attached as it grows.  Propagules  such as fruits and seeds can often survive at sea for many months, before they wash up in a suitable area for them to grow.

Some of the mangrove species found in Mackay include;

  • Grey Mangrove – Avicennia marina var. eucalyptifolia
  • Large-leafed Orange Mangrove – Bruguiera gymnorhiza
  • Smooth-fruited Yellow Mangrove – Ceriops australis
  • Milky Mangrove – Excoecaria agallocha
  • Keeled-pod Mangrove – Heritiera littoralis
  • White-flowered Black Mangrove – Lumnitzera racemosa
  • Long-style Stilt Mangrove – Rhizophora stylosa
  • White-flowered Apple Mangrove – Sonneratia alba

An estimated 75 percent of fish caught commercially spend some time in mangroves or are dependent on food chains which can be traced back to mangrove environments.  Mangroves also protect the coast by absorbing wave and wind energy, particularly during storms.  Mangrove roots can trap sediments and help protect corals and sea grasses in adjacent marine habitats, which can be killed by high levels of sedimentation.

The clearing of mangroves is prohibited in Queensland.  Mangroves are protected under the Fisheries Act 1995.


Environmental weeds are plants that do not naturally occur in an area and can invade areas of natural habitat.  They are usually introduced from other countries or areas and spread to bushland and areas of natural vegetation, where they become weeds, threatening the survival of native specis.  Over 170 species of environmental weeds occur in Mackay.

Priority weeds

The Mackay Regional Pest Management Group has chosen the following 15 pest plants as high priorities for control in the Mackay Whitsunday region.

Mimosa pigra

Giant Sensitive Tree forms dense, impenetrable thickets, 3-6m high, establishing on waterways, floodplains and wetlands.  In the Northern Territory, over 80,000 ha of floodplains have been invaded by Giant Sensitive Tree.

Giant Rat's Tail Grass

Giant Rat's Tail Grass is an aggressive grass that can reduce pasture productivity and outcompete desirable pasture grasses.  It was introduced from Africa during the 1960's as a contaminant in pasture seed.  It has adapted well to Queensland conditions.


Sicklepod (Senna obtusifolia) is a vigorously growing, very competitive, woody shrub which grows 1.5-2.5m tall and 1m wide.  It is normally an annual, but plants which have been slashed or survive chemical treatment often reshoot, flower and last for a further year.


Parthenium weed is an annual herb with a deep tap root and an erect stem that becomes woody with age.  As it matures, the plant develops many branches in its top half and may eventually reach a height of 2 meters.


Orignially introduced to provide ponded pasture for cattle, Hymenachne has become a pest of stream banks, shallow wetlands and irrigation ditches.  In some areas it has invaded low-lying sugar cane, fish habitat and natural wetland areas with high conservation value.


Rubbervine is a vigorous climber with twining, whip-like shoots which can grow unsupported as an untidy, many-stemmed shrub, 1-2m high.  It can also scramble up to 30m high in trees.


Salvinia molesta is a Weed of National Significance in Australia.  It can rapidly form mats that completely cover water storages, affecting water quality, water flow, wildlife, irrigation and recreational activities including fishing and swimming.

Water Hyacinth

Originally introduced to Australia as an aquatic ornamental plant, Water Hyacinth has become a major pest of rivers and dams.  Not only does it destroy native habitats, but it also seriously depletes water bodies of oxygen, increases water loss and provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Water Lettuce

Water Lettuce is a free floating aquatic weed that rapidly forms dense mats covering rivers, dams and irrigation canals.  It can restrict water flow, increase water loss by transpiration and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos.  Water Lettuce spreads both by vegetative reproduction and by seeds.

Singapore Daisy

Singapore Daisy is a vigorous ground cover with lush, glossy green leaves.  The leaves are usually three lobed and in pairs up the stem.  It produces yellow to orange daisy flowers about 2cm across.  It flowers all year round.  The flowers are held above the leaves on short stalks.

Bellyache Bush

Bellyache Bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) is often confused with Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis).  Both plants are frequently found in the same areas.  Bellyache Bush is a squat, thick-stemmed shrub 2.5-4m tall, which develops from a short, single stemmed plant, with three or four young leaves sprouting from the top.

Prickly Acacia

Prickly Acacia is a thorny shrub or small tree growing 4-5m high, although in ideal conditions it can reach up to 10m.  The umbrella shape of the prickly acacia tree and the distinctive pods are characteristic features.  The young shrubs form dense thorny thickets, while mature trees are usually single stemmed, with spreading branches that are mainly thornless.


Parkinsonia aculeata is a thorny shrub or small tree.  It was introduced as an ornamental shade tree in around 1900.  Since then, it has progressed to be a major weed and today infests large areas of Queensland and other states, amounting to 800,000 ha nationally, primarily along waterways.

Giant Sensitive Plant

Giant Sensitive Plant is a shrubby or sprawling annual, that can behave like a perennial vine in certain years.  Stems bunching, often scrambling over other plants, with a line of sharp, hooked prickles.

Mother of Millions

Mother of Millions (Bryophyllum species) are escaped ornamental plants from Madagascar.  Five species are commonly naturalised in Queensland; three of these are spreading over substantial areas.  Mother of Millions is highly toxic to stock and because of its succulent features, is well adapted to dry areas.