Walking along the clifftops in January, I despaired of seeing anything in flower. Many plants are looking burnt by the heat, especially the sturdy bushes of Coast Beard-heath, Leucopogon parviflorus.
However, many of the bushes of this plant are developing their tiny white berries which, though mostly seed, are quite tasty, and enjoyed by birds. The lower-growing bushes of Sea Box, Alyxia buxifolia, are also developing larger red berries.
In moist forested areas, such as near Moggs and Distillery Creeks, tiny red berries are also a feature of Prickly Currant-bush, Coprosma quadrifida.
Beware, as this, like the very similar but taller Sweet Bursaria, Bursaria spinosa, has long, very sharp spines.
In the heathlands there are also many heat-damaged plants, such as the new foliage on young banksias.
I have found one plant in flower, also with prickly foliage, Prickly Geebung, Persoonia juniperina. Small tubular yellow flowers, with unusual curled-out petals, are scattered inside its inhospitable foliage.
In the Allen Noble Sanctuary there are a few Kangaroo Apples, Solanum sp., with lovely violet flowers and striking smooth oval yellow fruits. I am not sure which of the two possible Kangaroo Apples species these are, but they are plants that are fairly short-lived, and come up in disturbed areas.
I consider sedges and rushes to be a highlight of this month, and there are many types in this sanctuary. This includes a Red-fruit Saw-sedge, Gahnia sieberiana, growing beside the pathway. It has masses of tiny red berries displayed along the dangling brown plume; however, the other plants have passed this stage.
In our district there are 11 species of Sea Rush, the most common being Juncus kraussii subsp. australiensis.
There is a nice sedge or rush beside the small pool at Distillery Creek picnic ground…I wonder of you can identify it? This is also a hotspot for birds.
Sedge or Rush
A plant which may be familiar to many is Knobby Club-sedge, Ficina nodosa, as the shire has planted it along roadsides. I have a lovely specimen flowering in my fish pond, each stem with a globular seed-head near, but not at, the tip. It is a really hardy plant growing in a wide range of habitats.
Perhaps, the ‘creme de la creme’ for this month is to be found near the Anglesea treatment plant. About a dozen plants of Feather-head, Ptilotus macrocephalus, have several spikes of the dancing white plumes standing out just above the other low- growing bushes. They can be found in a small area of bushland, on the right-hand side of the path as it turns away from the plant toward the sea. I have seen them often in drier locations in Victoria and Western Australia, but this is the only place I know of on the Surfcoast… be quick as they will soon be finished.
If you have time while there, look for blue flowers as, skulking in the undergrowth, there are a few remaining examples of the gorgeous, fringed, mauve flowers of Branching Fringe Lily, Thysanotus racemoides (formerly juncifolius), always worth a look.
Branching Fringe Lily
In my garden I have been delighted by the first flowering of a plant I wrote about last time, my potted Magenta Stork’s-bill, Pelargonium rodneyanum. It has a number of quite large, bright magenta flowers, but unfortunately something is eating holes in its big rounded leaves…aaah!
I wonder what unexpected treasures you may find in amongst all the dryness.