Cushion plant, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Cushion plant, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (photograph: Andrew Englisch)

Cushion plants

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The term cushion plant refers to the plant's characteristic growth habit. Cushion plants are well adapted to alpine environments, and form a mat-like structure of tightly packed stems of different plants, all growing at the same very slow rate in order to protect each other from the wind and cold. Cushion plants have an important role in alpine ecosystems in Tasmania, creating a sturdy base for other alpine plants to set seed and grow.  ​​

Cushion plants can appear hardy, but are in fact very fragile and can be easily destroyed through trampling. Bushwalkers should avoid damaging these sensitive alpine areas by not walking on the cushion plants​​, and remember to observe the principles of Leave No Trace; a set of guiding principles that help minimise impact on the places we visit.

Common name, family and sc​​​ientific name

  • Tasmanian cushion plant - Asteraceae, Abrotanella forsteroides (Tasmanian endemic)
  • Sage cushion plant - ​Asteraceae, Pterygopappus lawrencei (Tasmanian endemic)
  • Cushion cupflower - Caryophyllaceae, Colobanthus pulvinatus
  • Snow cushion plant - ​Donatiaceae, Donatia novae-zelandia
  • Yellow cushion plant - Stylidiaceae, Phyllachne colensoi 
  • Ben Lomond cushion plant - Scrophulariaceae, Veronica ciliolate (Tasmanian endemic)
  • Claspleaf heath - Epacridaceae, Dracophyllum minimum (Tasmanian endemic)​ 

Best place to see it​

cushion plant

Cushion plant, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park