Goldfields prospector Charlie Spencer struck lucky when he discovered a new and rare plant species, which will called 'Charlie's Gold' in his honour.
The new species from the plant genus Tetratheca was found by Southern Cross local Charlie Spencer while exploring some breakaway country south of Coolgardie.
Mr Spencer, who has a passion for the bush and an extensive knowledge of the biodiversity of the region, has been involved in flora and fauna surveys for many years while gold prospecting in the Goldfields.
When Mr Spencer found the plants, he thought they were unusual and took a specimen to Geoff Cockerton at Western Botanical to be identified.
Mr Cockerton then confirmed with the Western Australian Herbarium that the species was new to science.
Mr Spencer said it was exciting to share the new finding with other people who were passionate about native flora in Western Australia.
“I have lived most of my life in the Goldfields, and there is nothing I enjoy more than wandering through the bush looking at all the things that make the bush a beautiful place to be in,” he said.
“I was walking back to my vehicle after wandering around some beautiful breakaway country when I came across the plants. I picked a few stems that had flowers, placed them in a book for safe storage and called Geoff Cockerton when I returned home. Geoff said the chance of it being a new discovery was very high.”
Scientist Ryonen Butcher of the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), a world expert on the Tetratheca genus, said the new finding invoked great interest at the Western Australian Herbarium.
“When the plant specimen was brought to the Herbarium, we were thrilled to confirm that Charlie had discovered a new, highly restricted and rare species from the Goldfields,” Ms Butcher said.
“We already know of five rare Tetratheca in the region, each of which is restricted to a single banded ironstone range. These ranges are small, biodiverse islands in the otherwise subdued landscape, and are known for their unique vegetation and large number of species that are found nowhere else in the world.
“The new finding confirms that the Goldfields region is not only rich in minerals, but also plants. There are still many new and unknown species in Western Australia, out there to be discovered by botanists and members of the public.”
Ms Butcher said the new species would be given the scientific name Tetratheca spenceri in honour of Mr Spencer.
“To compliment Charlie’s gold prospecting pastime, I’ve also suggested the common name ‘Charlie’s Gold’ be used to celebrate both the man and his most valuable find,” she said.
The plant will be listed as a Priority One conservation species when the name is included on the Census of Western Australian Plants.