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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A cushion plant is not one pillowy plant, but a community of different plants that all share the same cushion-like, clumping form of growth that gives the plant its name.

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, 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 may appear hardy, but are in fact fragile, extremely slow-growing, and can be easily destroyed through trampling. Bushwalkers should avoid damaging these sensitive alpine plants by avoiding walking on them and keeping to the trail.

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)​ 

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