Ironplant (Astrotricha hamptonii, Araliaceae): an enigmatic species with a rich history in bioprospecting

Russell L Barrett, Murray J Henwood


Astrotricha hamptonii F.Muell. (Araliaceae) is essentially restricted to the Hamersley Range in the Pilbara region of Western Australia where it grows on cliffs in rock fissures. This distinctive plant almost always grows in association with high-grade iron ore deposits on banded ironstone formations. Recognisable from the air, this species was used by mining company owner Lang Hancock’s prospecting partner, Ken McCamey, to accurately map the distribution of many of the richest iron ore deposits in the Hamersley Range in Western Australia. This paper provides the first detailed taxonomic description of this species to be published in English, and reviews its relationships in the Australian endemic genus Astrotricha DC. A summary of its use for bioprospecting is provided.


Astrotricha; Araliaceae; Pilbara; Hamersley Range; iron ore

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