In November there were widespread displays of the erect spikes, or racemes, of the swaying Grass Trigger-plant, Stylidium graminifolium.
This is the most common of the four trigger plants in our district. The tiny white to pale pink flowers have a trigger which is activated when an appropriate insect lands on the flower, ensuring that the plant passes on or collects pollen. Children (and many adults) like using small sticks to firmly touch the centre of the flower and activate the trigger—it resets again in a few minutes to half an hour.
A November highlight is always the Blue Pincushion, Brunonia australis, such a special plant that it used to have its own family. The dome-shaped blue flower heads with yellow protruding styles are well named as pincushions. I also love the feel of the soft, hairy spoon-shaped leaves which form basal rosettes.
In the heathlands the dense, rounded terminal flowerheads of the tiny, tubular cream flowers of Common Rice-flowers, Pimelia humilis, have been looking most appealing. At the Plant Study Group, I learned from our wonderful teacher, Gail Slykuis, that the name Rice-flower comes from the appearance of the fruit, which is a rice grain-like botanical nut.
I recently discovered why it is so hard to find flowers of Trailing Goodenia, Goodenia lanata, and Magenta Stork’s-bill, Pelargonium rodneyanum, for our show in September…they flower in late spring and early summer. The Trailing Goodenia has been putting on a fine show in many areas with its yellow flowers of five uneven petals.
It is very easy to confuse with Bent Goodenia, Goodenia geniculata, which has been flowering for some time. The main difference is the trailing habit of the former and its shorter, more coarsely toothed leaves. Bent Goodenia usually has longer less toothed leaves which grow in the form of a rosette. However, on the November nature ramble we were quite confused at finding some Trailing Goodenias also with leaf rosettes as shown in the photograph.
Magenta Stork’s bill, with its colourful bright pink to magenta flowers, is very rare in our district but has been successfully propagated by Angair. I have one growing well in a pot and can’t wait to see and photograph it when the current buds finally open.
Magenta Stork’s bill
In forested areas like Distillery Creek, Moggs Creek, and the Otways, there several low-growing white flowers to see. One of the most common is Prickly Starwort, Stellaria pungens, which grows, as stated in Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet, in ‘loose mat-like profusion’. The white starry flowers grow in leaf axils along the stems with widely-spaced, narrow, pointed prickly leaves.
Usually I just glance at the many examples of the massed, mini cloud-like formations of female seed heads of the Small-leaved Clematis, Clematis microphylla. One day I took a close look and was surprised to see how much the individual silky plumes of the seed heads resemble delicate white feathers. Don’t plant one near a door, unless you are sure it is a male plant!
Two summer staples which grow well along the Aireys Inlet cliff top are the bluebell, Wahlenbergia, and fan flower, Scaevola. We saw a number of both on the nature ramble at O’Donohues reserve. The bluebell, with their blue five petalled flowers, looked so delightful swaying on their thin stems in the breeze, but caused us lots of angst as we tried to determine the species. I tend to call them all W. stricta subs. stricta as it is the taller and most common of the seven species in our district, but there was some difference of opinion!
The Small-fruit Fan-flower, Scaevola albida, can form a white and green mat over large areas and should continue to flower for some time.
There was big excitement on the nature ramble with the discovery of a lomandra that most of us had never seen. It was a Dwarf Mat-rush, Lomandra nana, a plant most people would not notice. This low, densely-tufted plant had clusters of dense yellow maleflowers along the erect stem. The combination of this year’s late flowering, and unexpected summer plants could lead to some interesting finds over the holidays.