Autumn is my favourite season.

It is not particularly colourful, but there are lovely things to see at this time of the year, such as the wonderful pods and seed capsules that the plants produce to safeguard their seeds. Some of these plants are described below:

Cranberry Heath Astroloma humifusum is a low dense spreading mat-like plant, with prickly blue-green lance-shaped leaves. It has bright red tubular flowers 7-12 mm long, usually borne singly along branches, between May and September. Later, pale green globular fruit develop. Found on well-drained soils, it tolerates dry periods in full sun in woodland, forest and coastal heathland. It is an Aboriginal food plant, and is also popular with birds.

Cranberry Heath
Cranberry Heath

Coast Daisy-bush Olearia axillaris is an erect dense shrub to about 1.5m in height. The leaves have a smoky grey-green appearance due to young growth but older leaves are dark green. They are covered with a layer of whitish short hairs on the upper surface, and are densely white and cottony below, with margins rolled under. Small stalk-less creamy flower-heads grow in the leaf axils towards the ends of the upper branches. If the leaves are crushed they have a strong aromatic odour. It tolerates salty winds, grows in dry sandy soils in full sun and has potential as a hedge plant.

Coast Daisy-bush
Coast Daisy-bush

Twiggy Daisy-bush Olearia ramulosa var. ramulosa is an open, often sprawling, shrub up to 1m high. It has crowded, narrow dark green leaves to 10mm long, white below, sometimes sticky with rolled margins. Masses of small white flower-heads appear along the branches from September to May, with each flower-head having two to ten white ray-florets. It is found near coastal heaths, forests and watercourses and is attractive to butterflies.

Twiggy Daisy-bush
Twiggy Daisy-bush

The Small Grass-tree Xanthorrhoea minor is a slow growing, fire resistant perennial. It has long, rigid, linear leaves 3.5mm-7mm wide, almost triangular in cross-section, clustered in a terminal crown. The woody trunk is underground, and the arching, green leaves grow in a tuft. The terminal flower spikes are up to 15cm long, and borne on thin stems up to 60cm long. At this time of the year the flower spike will appear dark brown due to the colour of the capsules protecting the developing seed. It grows in sandy soils in heathland and heathy woodlands.

Small Grass-tree
Small Grass-tree

The Small Sheoak Allocasuarina misera is a common shrub in the district, growing to about 90cm high. Male and female flowers usually grow on separate plants. The leaves, as in all sheoaks, are reduced to rings of scales, which in this species are quite dark. The female flowers are reddish-purple and form stalk-less globular heads, which, if fertilised, will turn into small cylindrical cones after the flower dies. This plant is endemic to Victoria.

Small Sheoak
Small Sheoak

Ref:

Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. Edited by M. MacDonald.

Flora of the Otway Plain and Ranges 2. Enid Mayfield

Flora of Melbourne 4th ed. M. Bull.

Philippa Hesterman

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