To finish off the year I am again highlighting red, and also white as this is a common summer colour.
First, the aptly named, widespread Common Raspwort, Gonocarpus tetragynus, often unnoticed. It has insignificant small reddish flowers growing up above the leaves along low-growing stems that tend to droop with the weight of the flower’s spike. As I walk past I always enjoy bending down and feeling its small, serrated raspy leaves.
Waterways, such as at the Allen Noble Sanctuary, may have displays of Slender Knotweed, Persicaria decipiens. This low-growing, spreading plant has 15cm long green leaves, often with a dark blotch. The small flowers grow on long, slender spikes at the end of the fine branches.
Nearby, on the water’s edge you may find Austral Brooklime, Gratiola peruviana. The single, five-petalled, white/pink flowers grow on distinctive thick fleshy stems.
However, when I looked in November, it was the Slender Dock, Rumex brownii, just coming into flower, which stood out in the shallow water around the edges of the sanctuary. This erect plant, with long upright oblong leaves, has pretty pink flowers in separated whorls up the length of single, central spikes.
In my garden the tiny bright red berries on Nodding Saltbush, Einadia nutans subsp. nutans, are putting on a great display. It is growing so vigorously that I am wondering if it going to take over.
On summer walks in moist forest/woodland, such as at Moggs Creek and Distillery Creek, check the Prickly Currant-bush, Coprosma quadrifida, for its small, eye-catching red berries.
This plant is easily confused with Sweet Bursaria, Bursaria spinosa subsp. spinosa, often growing nearby. However, at the moment, Sweet Bursaria is easily identified as it is developing clusters of creamy, star-like flowers. Its sweet fragrance and nectar attract masses of insects, especially bees and butterflies.
A seasonal highlight is the Victorian Christmas Bush, Prostanthera var. lasianthos. This can be a quite spectacular tall shrub in moist gullies such as Moggs Creek Nature trail. Its numerous fragrant, white, two-lipped flowers can look like summer snow.
Victorian Christmas Bush
It is worth smelling the fragrant mint-scented leaves. Musk Daisy-bush, Olearia argophylla, a tall shrub, also grows in moist gullies. The flowers are in large clustered flower heads. The broad oval leaves are green and glossy above, but with an undersurface covered in silvery white hairs.
Tree Everlasting, Ozothamnus ferrugineus, a less spectacular tall bush, is quite common in moist areas along the coast and will be flowering with massed clusters of tiny, scented white flowers.
Prickly Teatree, Leptospermum continentale, a shrub to about two metres high, has been putting on a fine display in the heathlands and woodlands. The five-petalled flowers grow thickly over the trees, followed by the distinctive woody capsules. The small rigid oval leaves are well named!
There are a number of prostrate, mainly white, plants that will also be in flower, particularly in moist forests, but I will have to leave you to discover these yourself.
Freesia refracta and Freesia alba X F. leichtlinii are declared weeds in the Surf Coast Shire because they spread easily and threaten to invade bushland. Freesias are perennial herbs that die back in summer and produce new foliage in winter. The highly fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in spring are white to cream and pink with yellow markings, shaded purple on outer surface. Each plant has at least two corms, one below the other, thus requiring deep digging to remove them.
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.