There is not a lot in flower at the moment, so now is a good time to look down to the ground. There are a great number of small perennial plants appearing, with a promise of beautiful flowers later in the year.

 

Violets, pennyworts and kidney-weeds are three ground-covers that look very similar. They all spread along the ground, rooting at nodes, and often forming a mat in damp areas. The Ivy-leafed Violet Viola hederacea, has leaves that are fan-shaped and hairless, whilst Kidney-weed Dichondra repens, has leaves that are kidney-shaped and hairy.

 

Ivy-leafed Violet

Kidney-weed

Hairy Pennywort Hydrocotyle hirta, has leaves that are kidney-shaped, but with five to seven lobes, and are deeply veined.

Hairy Pennywort

One of the most widespread, tiny perennials is the carnivorous Scented Sundew, Drosera whittakeri subsp. aberrans. The spoon-shaped leaves form a rosette of green, red or bronze. The tiny, sticky hairs on the leaves catch insects, which the plant digests as a supplement to the low level of nutrients in the infertile soil in which they grow. Blue Bottle-Daisy Lagenophera  stipitata is another tiny plant with a rosette, which has hairy leaves with toothed margins.  A third rosette of leaves appearing now in many areas belongs to the Nodding Greenhood, Pterostylis nutans.

If you see some narrow leaves lying flat on the ground forming a rosette or tuft, they are probably the lily, Blue Squill Chamaescilla corymbosa var. corymbosa. It produces beautiful, six-petalled blue star flowers, which are a significant feature of the heathland in spring.

The mosses and lichens have been given a new lease of life with the rains, and are looking lush and healthy. You may notice very small fungi growing in the moss, probably Rickenella sp., and Omphalina sp. in the lichen

Prickly Cryptandra Cryptandra tomentosa is one small plant flowering at the moment, showing its white buds and flowers, in stark contrast to the surrounding dark greens and browns. These flowers gradually turn pink with age.

Prickly Cryptandra

Honeypots Acrotriche serrulata is also in bud of flower, but you have to search to find them. They are hidden deep in the foliage at the base of the stems, and are not easily visible. They become full of nectar when mature, and are very sweet tasting, and loved by Crimson Rosellas.

Don’t forget to take the Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet with you on your walks.

Chris Morrissey

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