Our ‘Indian summer’ has made for very pleasant walks, but the heat and dryness is making it difficult for plants.
However the drying of the Allen Noble sanctuary has exposed expanses of Austral Brooklime Gratiola peruviana in flower. The single, five-petalled, white/pink flowers grow on thick fleshy stems.
I have been enjoying wandering along the waterways where the hardy reeds and rushes are in flower. A little ditty which may help with their identification is: ‘sedges have edges and rushes are round.’ The Anglesea River is lined in places by large tussocks of Chaffy Saw-sedge Gahnia filum, with its densely clustered, bristly flowers. The long spreading, grass-like leaves have distinctive sharp edges...not good to feel! The roots form a fundamental role in the food web of wetland communities and the plant shelters a range of insects, frogs and butterflies.
Sea Rush Juncus kraussii may be found in similar locations with its straight, tough, straw-like, pointed leaves. The flowerheads are clustered and branched near the end of the flower stems.
One of my favourite riverside plants is Common Reed Phragmites australis, a tall bamboo-like perennial, which has been flowering profusely, with lovely fluffy plume-like seed-heads which are purplish to white. In my search for tactile plants I was delighted to discover the pleasure of running my hands through the soft and silky plumes. This plant is found all over Victoria and is called Tark-korn by the local aborigines. The roots, which taste rather like Bamboo shoots, were eaten by them. The stems were used as spear shafts, bags, baskets and necklaces.
Bright colours are in short supply at this time of year, but when in the heathlands look out for the mat-like Cranberry Heath Astroloma humifusum. Buried in amongst the bluish-green fine pointed foliage are delightful bright-red tubular flower.
Our two main Correas normally do not flower at the same time of year, but at the moment they both have fine displays. White Correa Correa alba with its spreading petals is found on the coastal heaths and cliffs.
Common Correa Correa reflexa is found in a range of habitats. Its rich, red, tubular dangling flowers look gorgeous with their curled-out green tip and stamens peeping out.
Sheoaks Allocasuarinas are giving a soft autumn glow to our bush at the moment. In coastal areas Drooping Sheoak Allocasuarina verticillata, and further inland Black Sheoak Allocasuarina littoralis are looking quite beautiful, as the male plants are flowering with long golden strings of tiny flowers.
On your autumn rambles remember to carry the Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet to help with your identification of plants.