Two different vegetation types are present in Marino CP. The most westerly portion of the Park, the slope above the railway line, is covered with a coastal heath vegetation. This type of vegetation was once widespread along the Adelaide Metropolitan coastline, but few examples have survived the spread of urbanisation. This area of about 8 hectares is thus very significant.

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Friends in the coastal heath

Coastal heath comprises low-growing shrubby species rarely exceeding waist high. All are sclerophyllous, and many are rigid or have spiny leaves. But among them grow a wide variety of bulbs and other annuals. Most of the 130 indigenous plant species surviving in the Park are found in this area, including most of the 40 or so species of conservation significance. They flower between spring and autumn each year.

Most of the rest of the Park once supported open woodland, with low trees of drooping she-oak and mallee box. When the Park was first proclaimed in 1989, only about 10 mallee box trees survived, and they were all restricted to the coastal heath area. No she-oaks survived anywhere. But the elegant wattles, which once grew between the low trees, had managed to survive the invasion by feral olives, boxthorn and cyclops wattles.

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Grassy woodland with flowering male Allocasuarina verticillata trees

During the 1960-70s, Marion city Council had operated a domestic rubbish tip in the deep eastern gully. When the gully was filled, the rubbish was covered with a layer of soil to create a ‘landfill’ area. Due to the presence of methane escaping from this landfill, few native plants are able to survive here, and the area is dominated by a variety of very hardy weeds.

Extensive work by the Friends and National Parks and Wildlife Service staff has removed most of the woody weeds from the Park, and allowed the indigenous plant species to flourish.