On Monday August 12, 2013, ten keen ramblers commenced a walk at the gateway opposite 5th Ave on O’Donohue Rd, taking the inner track W1 [orange tag].

Beautiful stands of pink and red Common Heath Epacris impressa were widespread. It is mainly an erect plant 1m high, and has masses of flowers among the prickly, crowded, tapering short leaves. The flowers are tubular, and the pink form is Victoria's floral emblem.

Making a bright statement along the track was the Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha, which is Australia's floral emblem. The large, golden, globular flower heads mass together in large clusters, which are really eye-catching. The long, leathery phyllodes are a shiny dark-green with a prominent mid rib.

Common Heath and Golden Wattle

Other wattles seen along the track included Sweet Wattle Acacia suaveolens, Prickly Moses Acacia verticillata subsp. verticillata, Myrtle Wattle Acacia myrtifolia, Varnish Wattle Acacia verniciflua and Coast Wattle Acacia longifolia subsp. sophorae.

We were fortunate to see several small terrestrial orchids including the Slaty Helmet Orchid Corybas incurvus, which has a ground-hugging single, light-green leaf with a prominent central vein.

Slaty Helmet Orchid

The Gnat Orchid Cyrtostylis reniformis forms colonies of rounded grey-green, ground-hugging prominently-veined leaves. It has slender flower stems up to 15cm tall, and 1-4 small, light brown flowers.

Which orchid?

We also saw the Mayfly Orchid Acianthus caudatus, a distinctive orchid bearing 2-5 dark purplish flowers that has long filament-like tips to the sepals giving it an insect-like appearance. It has a single heart-shaped dark-green leaf, with a purple underside. On the outer loop of the walk several Leopard Orchids Diuris pardina were seen. These orchids have 2-3 grass-like leaves, a flower stem up to 25cm bearing 3-6 yellow flowers with distinctive brownish spots.

Several varieties of Sundews were seen, including the Climbing Sundew Drosera macrantha subsp. macrantha which twines around other plants for support. It has a terminal cluster of large white or pink 5-petalled, sweetly perfumed flowers. The leaves are modified cups with radiating sticky hairs that trap insects. The Scented Sundew Drosera whittakeri subsp. aberrans is a perennial herb that has a small, round, flat basal rosette of green, bronze or red spoon-shaped leaves edged with tiny hairs to trap insects. White flowers appear on short stems in the centre of the rosette, but only one opens at a time. Large colonies often appear after fire.

Scented Sundew

The Tall Sundew Drosera peltatta subsp. auriculata has terminal clusters of white or pink flowers. The leaves are modified discs and arise from the stem on fine stalks. The hairs from the discs are sticky and trap insects.

Another attractive plant seen on this walk was Common Hovea Hovea heterophylla. A straggly plant getting some support from other vegetation. it is a small shrub about 20cm high found in the heathland. The leaves are well spread along the stem, starting as oval and gradually becoming narrower and longer up the stem. The attractive bluish-mauve pea-flowers appear in clusters of 2 or 3 in leaf axils

Hovea and Common Heath

At this time of the year this is a very rewarding walk. All of the plants mentioned in this report can be seen from the well-formed tracks, so there is no need to trample through the vegetation. Please keep to the walking tracks so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of this very special environment.

Photographer: E. Campbell

Reporter: P.Hesterman

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