I have been enjoying our summer “snow”, with many of our larger plants and trees covered in masses of small white flowers.
Our iconic Moonah Melaleuca lanceolata has dense clusters of small, creamy-white, bottle-brush flowers while Tree Everlasting Ozothamnus ferrugineus has clusters of tiny, scented white flowers in large, domed flower-heads.
Common Cassinia Cassinia aculeata, which is easy to confuse with Tree Everlasting, has tiny conical flowers in flatter clusters, and finer leaves with rolled-under margins.
The cream “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” flowers on the Messmate, Eucalyptus obliqua are less showy from a distance, but still delightful. The abundant, clustered flowers are fragrant and very attractive to birds.
I have been very interested to see Sweet Bursaria Bursaria spinosa subsp. spinosa, in all stages of flowering. It is a locally common plant, growing to about two metres high, with terminal panicles of fragrant, creamy, star-like flowers. Clusters of small, purse-like seed pods are also developing, starting as a delicate pale green, becoming soft-beige, and finally turning a deep, rich brown. It is certainly a wonderful plant as the flowers attract masses of bees and butterflies. The spines amongst the foliage provide a great protection for small birds though they pose a definite risk for small children and gardeners!
Sea Box Alyxia buxifolia, with white flowers, is a dense, spreading shrub which may be seen beside the cliff-top tracks, mainly in Aireys Inlet. The oval leaves are dark-green and leathery. The small, scented, white flowers are very distinctive as the five petals are twisted sideways into flat propeller-like spirals, reminding me of children’s pinwheels. The berries ripen to a striking, bright orange-red.
On the January nature ramble, we were pleased to see a couple of prostrate marsh plants in flower on the exposed mudflats in the Painkalac Creek estuary. Creeping Monkey-flower Thyridia repens (formerly Mimulus repens) has delicate butterfly-like mauve flowers among small, crowded, stalkless leaves.
Creeping Brookweed Samolus repens var. repens, has small leaves, and erect, five-petalled flowers that are usually white, but sometimes a luscious soft pink.
Finally, in these dry times, it is heartening to see the lovely pink-mauve nodding flowers of Paper Flower Thomasia petalocalyx across the heathlands. This low-growing, hardy bush has a soft hairy appearance due to a covering of stellate, or star-shaped, hairs.
Remember to take your Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet on your walks.