Currently there is great excitement in our plant world, with the discovery of Small Milkwort, Comosperma polygaloides, near Point Addis.
This small, low growing, and insignificant-looking plant was thought to be extinct in our district as it had not been seen for 20 years. In 1990, Mary White described it as a rare plant in her book Coastal Vegetation of Anglesea-Aireys Inlet Region. What an amazing amateur botanist she was – there are several plants in her books I have never seen, and I would have trouble identifying, even with all the resources available today. The flower spikes, as she says, growing ‘to shin height’, have small pinkish-blue and white, pea-like flowers, on erect stems with some fine, narrow leaves.
Walking along Ted’s Track, I was almost dazzled now and then by the intense blue flowers of Tall Lobelia, Lobelia gibbosa.
This plant, sometimes in small groups, grows on an erect spike like the Milkwort, and to a similar height. The distinctive five-petalled flowers, with three spreading petals and two curled up backwards, grow only on one side of the spike. The narrow leaves fall off during flowering which also makes the flowers stand out. What a gem!
How about our Moonahs, Melaleuca lanceolata: haven’t they been a sight covered with their creamy white highly perfumed ‘bottlebrush’ flowers?
They are iconic in our district, with their intricately sculptured branches.
Creeping Monkey-flower, Thyridia repens, (which has had a name change from Mimulus repens), can be found on the muddy edges of our rivers as they dry out. This prostrate plant has the most delightful, delicate mauve flowers, and is a real favourite of mine. What a strange name though, it looks like more like a butterfly to me!
Nodding Saltbush, Einadia nutans subsp. nutans, a prostrate plant with small arrow-shaped leaves, has been thriving in my garden.
In amongst the masses of leaves of this sprawling wiry plant are tiny orange/red berries. Every year I miss the insignificant flowers that precede these tiny, but very obvious bright fruits.
Along the cliff tops and the coastal dunes, Coast Everlasting, Ozothamnus turbinatus, is developing clusters of creamy-yellow tubular flowers.
Its bright green foliage stands out in its exposed and often cliff-edge locations.
Also the robust Coast Sword-sedge, Lepidosperma gladiatum, has been bearing compact brown flower heads for some time.
The clumps of large, flat, sword-like leaves are an important feature of our coastal vegetation.
The nature ramble last month was along the Anglesea River and we were surprised to see so many things in flower (details can be found on this page).
I was particularly interested to see some large, sprawling clumps of our two celeries, Apiums, which looked almost identical with small white clustered flowers. On a closer look it was clear that Annual Celery, Apium anuum, had fine leaves and Sea Celery, Apium prostratum subsp. prostratum var. filiforme, had larger dissected, parsley-like leaves.
I have never seen them look so similar as Annual Celery usually has a more upright habitat than the prostrate Sea Celery.
Our plant world is so often full of surprises. Remember to carry your Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet so you have a chance of identifying the unexpected.
Mirror Bush & Kohuha - Imports from NZ
NZ Mirror Bush Coprosma repens and Kohuhu Pittosporum tenuifolium are imports from New Zealand. Both are evergreen trees with glossy leaves that tend to grow in dense clumps eliminating indigenous species. Birds disperse the Mirror Bush berries and Kohuhu seeds into bushland reserves.
More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.