This is good month for searching out the lovely aromas from several of our plants. Two of these plants require some effort to smell as they are very low growing, but their sweet fragrance is well worth it.
The star of the month is the aptly named Scented Sundew Drosera whittakeri subsp. aberrans. This has single, quite large five-petalled white flowers that really stand out, sitting just above the ground-hugging rosette of dark spoon-shaped leaves which can be green bronze or red. You may notice insects trapped in the tiny, glistening sticky hairs of this quite spectacular carnivorous plant.
Prickly Cryptandra C. tomentosa, a low compact, has small, fine, stiff leaves. For some time these bushes have been covered in small, fragrant, white tubular flowers which turn pink to rose-red as they mature.
The flowers of two plants of the same genus, but from different environments, are also worth a close look with a magnifier, and a smell. The small white flowers have delightful white tubular flowers, with fluffy turned-out petals, and are aptly named ‘beard-heaths’. Coast Beard-heath Leucopogon parviflorus, a large bush, is flowering along our cliff tops. It can be quite stunted in exposed areas or grow up to 3-4 m when sheltered. The tiny, strongly-perfumed flowers grow profusely in rigid terminal spikes.
Common Beard-heath Leucopogon virgatus var. virgatus has very similar flowers, but in smaller clusters, and grows in heathland, woodlands and open forest. This is an upright, many-stemmed, and open wiry bush growing to about knee height.
We are also coming into wattle time so even more fragrances may be found. Up to now there has only been one common wattle in flower, Sweet Wattle Acacia sauveolens.
One of the next widespread wattles to flower will be Varnish Wattle Acacia verniciflua, which also has globular flower-heads. These are a brighter yellow and spread along the stems, growing singly on short stems in the leaf axils. When in bud I think they look like a multitude of eyes on stalks. The light green phyllodes are shiny, and are sticky when young…try feeling them.
In swampy areas I enjoy seeing Water Buttons Cotula coronopifolia spreading through the grass and mud. The small round button-like, greenish to bright yellow flowers have fleshy stems and leaves with jagged edges. This is so widespread it was thought to be a weed, but recent research reported by the Corangamite Shire suggests it is native to Australia.
A surprising find has been seeing the yellow Button Everlasting Helichrysum scorpiodes in flower, as these usually flower in the spring. I like to get a magnifier and look at the multitude of tiny tubular florets in the single, quite large, button-like flower heads.
Keep a close look-out on your winter walks, and don’t forget to take Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.