Royal Park differs from most parks within the City of Melbourne in that its vegetation is almost exclusively Australian native. It has been designed to evoke the image of a landscape that confronted the first European Settlers. There are few introduced as most of the Royal Park plantings are locally indigenous to the Victorian Basalt Plains with the exception of Australian Native Garden which is comprised of plants from all over Australia and some historical plantings, such as the Morton Bay figs that line the former route of the horse-drawn tram to the Zoo.
There are two remnant bush sites (known as Bren’s Drive and Royal Park West) of the Ecological Vegetation Class 55 – Plains Grassy Woodland, Basalt Plains. Vegetation within the remnant sites include Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Acacia mearnsii, native grasses like Austrostipa mollis, Themeda triandra and Anthosacne scabra as well as some interesting, locally indigenous forbes like Vittadinia gracilis, Maireana enchyloides, Glycine tabacina, Goodenia pinnatifida, Tricoryne elatior and Rumex brownii
Contains a variety of wetlands plants like the Eleocharis acuta which provides haven, nesting material and food for water birds like the Purple Swamphen.
There are large varieties of native grasses within Royal Park which include Kangaroo Grass, Red-leg Grass, Silky Blue Grass, Windmill Grass, Weeping Grass and several species of Wallaby Grass and Spear Grass.
The remnant native vegetation site in Royal Park lies along what is called the Manningham Street escarpment. It was ‘rediscovered’ by horticultural student Adam Muyt in 1990 and he formed the first ‘Friends’ group for Royal Park – the Friends of Royal Park West in 1991. Since then seed collection, propagation and infill planting back into the remnant site have been carried out.
The Royal Park West remnant vegetation site was threatened from the proposed East West Link freeway proposal (2013-14), which would have seen tunnel portals carved into the site and viaducts spreading out from it – essentially destroying the site. Cancellation of the EWL reprieved this significant site and its biodiversity and habitat values.