Gascoyne bluebush (Maireana polypterygia) in the Western Australian rangelands

Page last updated: Tuesday, 21 June 2022 - 9:57am

Gascoyne bluebush (Maireana polypterygia) is one of many plant species found in the Western Australian rangelands.

This page provides a summary of the plant's value for pastoralism. Pastoral lessees and station managers can use this information to assess pasture condition and trend.

Indicator value

Gascoyne bluebush is a hardy species that tolerates heavy grazing. When the plant dominates the pasture as a lone grazed species, it has little useful indicator value, unless pasture condition declines to the point where even the Gascoyne bluebush is affected. When Gascoyne bluebush dominated pastures are in good condition in coastal areas, shy bluebush can be expected as a companion plant.

Without more-sensitive indicator plants, Gascoyne bluebush pastures are in fair condition, unless Gascoyne bluebush recruits over about 15 years of age are present. Scattered clumps and isolated individual Gascoyne bluebush plants generally indicate poor pasture condition.

Forage value

Gascoyne bluebush is high in salt and is more palatable when stock water has low salt content. It tolerates heavy grazing. 


Alluvial plains, stony uplands

General description

Gascoyne bluebush is a compact shrub that can grow to 1.2 m and up to 1.5 m across. The plant is long-lived and may be found on raised mounds of soil. Separate bushes often grow together giving the appearance of much larger individuals. The leaves are swollen and a fleshy blue-green when seasonal conditions are optimal but will shrink and become a more yellowed green in drier times. The mature fruits have a woody centre and a pair of wavy lateral wings connected by vertical structures between the 2 wings. The mature fruit is dark brown to near-black and is usually shiny.

Contact information

Joshua Foster
Matthew Fletcher
+61 (0)8 9166 4019