A rare olive tree in the middle of the Ipswich Motorway at Dinmore is being protected.
A rare olive tree in the middle of the Ipswich Motorway at Dinmore is being protected. Sarah Harvey

Rare tree found on work site

FLANKED by thousands of passing cars, and about $2 billion worth of roadworks on the Ipswich Motorway, lives one of Australia’s most endangered plants.

A rare Cooneana olive, Notolaea ipsviciensis, has been found by construction crews between lanes on the motorway near the Warrego Highway exit at Dinmore.

The plant is one of only 17 left in Australia, so the Origin Alliance project team behind the motorway upgrade has been giving it some special attention.

While heavy machinery operated nearby, a spokesman said the tree was being protected by a barricaded ‘no-go’ zone.

“This includes keeping a close eye on soil moisture through quality testing, also ensuring watering, mulching, weed and pest management and monthly health checks,” the spokesman said.

“The olive tree has flowered a number of times and the project team is collecting its fruit to try to grow new seedlings.”

The Cooneana olive is expected to remain standing when construction of the $1.95 billion motorway upgrade is finished in late 2012.

It was originally discovered in 1976 in an open paddock near the historical Cooneana homestead by Ipswich resident and amateur botanist Ron Liebram.

Late Bundamba naturalist Lloyd Bird, who died in September 2009, fought hard to ensure the survival of the rare species.

The Cooneana olive was listed on the critically endangered category of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act after the amateur botanist submitted a nomination to former Environment Minister Peter Garrett in March 2009.

Mr Bird had previously suggested the 1m to 2m-high shrub would be an ideal floral emblem for Ipswich.



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