Vegetation

Desert or semidesert vegetation is found from the interior to the west coast. This vegetation is composed of tough, spiny grasses (such as spinifex and porcupine grass), such shrubs as saltbush, and other drought-resistant plants. As the rainfall increases, the vegetation pattern changes. Beyond the desert area are grasslands interspersed with trees, mostly acacias (wattles). There are more than 600 species of acacias in Australia.

Beyond the grasslands toward the east are subtropical and temperate woodlands and rain forests. Here eucalyptus trees predominate. In Australia there are about 550 species of these trees, many of which are widely used for hardwood timber. Tropical plant life, consisting of conifers, palms, tree ferns, lianas, and a great variety of orchids, is found around the northern coast. Mediterranean vegetation is found in the southwestern tip of Australia, and jarrah and karri trees are abundant. Tasmania's vegetation consists mainly of subtropical and temperate forests and woodlands, with eucalyptus trees, palms, tree ferns, conifers, and beeches predominating.