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Foliage and female strobili of a plant at Wentworth Falls, NSW [Trevor Hinchliffe].


Foliage and male strobili of a plant at Wentworth Falls, NSW [Trevor Hinchliffe].


Mature plants growing in habitat at Wentworth Falls, NSW [Trevor Hinchliffe].


Plants growing in habitat at Wentworth Falls, NSW [Trevor Hinchliffe].


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Conservation status 2010: protocol 2.3, needs updating

Pherosphaera fitzgeraldi

(F. Mueller) F. Mueller ex Hooker f. 1882

Common names

Dwarf mountain pine; Blue Mountain dwarf pine (Silba 1986).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Dacrydium fitzgeraldi F. Muell.; Microstrobos fitzgeraldi (F. Muell.) J. Garden & L.A.S. Johnson 1951 (Brummitt et al. 2004). Type collections by R. Fitzgerald in the Blue Mountains, 1880 and 1881 (syntypes, ?MEL). See Brummitt et al. (2004) for the story behind this species' tangled nomenclatural history.


Ascending, drooping or erect many-branched shrub with long slender drooping branchlets to 1 m high and to 2 m diam. Leaves 2.5-3.5 mm long, less than 1 mm wide, sharply keeled, the point slightly incurved, the inner surface white with stomatal lines, olive-green and shining below, shortly decurrent. Male cones ovate to globose, c. 6 mm long. Female cones 2-4 mm long with 4-8 fertile scales (Dallimore et al. 1967, Harden 1990, Hill 1998).

Distribution and Ecology

Australia: NSW, Blue Mtns. Based on data from 4 collection localities, it grows at elevations of 712 ±201 m. Within its range, mean annual temperature is 13.0°C, with an average minimum in the coldest month of 1.0°C, and a mean annual precipitation of 1135 mm (Biffin et al. 2011, Table S5). Hardy to Zone 8 (cold hardiness limit between -12.1°C and -6.7°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Known only from southerly aspects on a few cliffs in the Wentworth Falls-Katoomba district. Usually grows on wet rocks within the spray of waterfalls or on ledges or in caves near waterfalls (Harden 1990, Hill 1998).

The IUCN reports that this taxon is endangered. It faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future due to a small population size (less than 2500 mature individuals) and severe population fragmentation, with no subpopulation estimated to contain more than 250 mature individuals.

Big tree





Photographs shown here were taken at Wentworth Falls, and it also occurs at Bonnie Doon Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Leura Falls.


This species is currently listed on the index of threatened Australian plant species.


Brummitt, R.K., R.R. Mill and A. Farjon. 2004. The significance of 'it' in the nomenclature of three Tasmanian conifers: Microcachrys tetragona and Microstrobos niphophilus (Podocarpaceae), and Diselma archeri. Taxon 53(2):529-539.

Hooker. 1882. Icon. Pl. 14, 64, t. 1383.

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Benson, J. 1989. Establishing priorities for the conservation of rare or threatened plants and plants associations in New South Wales. P.17-82 in M. Hicks and P. Eiser (eds.) The conservation of threatened species and their habitats. Proceedings of a national conference held in Sydney in March, 1987. Canberra: Australian Committee for IUCN.

Benson, J. 1991. Beautiful but vanishing flora. Geo 13(3):52-59.

Benson, J.S. 1992. Microstrobos fitzgeraldii F. Muell. (family Podocarpaceae). P.16 in: Leigh, J.H. and Briggs, J.D. (eds.) 'Threatened Australian Plants - Overview and Case Studies'. Canberra: ANPWS.

Brown, I. 1990. Rare and endangered: living on the edge. Australian Natural History 23(3):252.

Fensom, G. 1996. Microstrobos fitgeraldii, the dwarf mountain pine. [species profile] Danthonia 4(4):12-13.

Howes, J. and C. Smyth. 1994. The edge of extinction: Australia's threatened wildlife (2nd ed.) [brief entries on each plant]. Moorabbin: Gould League of Victoria.

Jones, W. 1994. The biology and management of the dwarf mountain pine (Microstrobos fitzgeraldii) in N.S.W. (Species Management Report no. 13) Hurstville: N.S.W. National Parks & Wildlife Service.

Smith, J. 1981. The distribution and conservation status of a rare conifer, Microstrobos fitzgeraldii (Podocarpaceae). Cunninghamia 1(1):125-128.

Last Modified 2017-11-12