I love early winter with the return of colours to our bush: rich green, red and yellow.
We can see lush green foliage and bright-pink heath contrasting with the yellow of the first wattles of the year.
Common Heath, Epacris impressa, in its pale pink form, is our state emblem, but we are blessed with a range of colours from white, through to bright pink. Sweet Wattle, Acacia suaveolens, has clustered, fragrant, creamy-yellow globular flowerheads and wide-spaced stiff, flattened, bluish-green phyllodes.
These two plants are widespread in many areas of heathy woodland, and are putting on a wonderful winter show that will continue for many weeks or months.
In some forested areas, such as Distillery Creek, you may notice masses of fallen creamy-white, and sometimes pale-pink, flowers under the eucalypts, and birds calling and chasing in the treetops. These are signs of the flowering of the Red Ironbark, E. tricarpa, with its delightful flowers, usually occurring in threes.
E. tricarpa, white form
E. tricarpa, pink form
It can be confused with the rich-pink form planted in parks and gardens.
This is a more northern species called E. sideroxylon with flowers of more variable colouring, including bright pink. The two ironbarks were both originally thought to be sub-species, but are now treated as distinct species due to their distribution and number of buds. Tricarpa has three 3 buds and sideroxylon seven. The thick corrugated bark is a permanent feature of both forms, which remains black forever once burnt.
Watch for the tiny tubular, clustered flowers on the low bushes of Prickly Cryptandra, Cryptandra tomentosa var.1, flowering in heathlands such as the Anglesea Lookout. The attractive flowers start white, but later turn a beautiful pink. They appear to have five small pointed petals but they are in fact sepals. The tiny petals, which hood the anthers, may be seen through a magnifier.
On Ted’s track extension, I was most surprised to find two new flowers on a Showy Parrot-pea, Dillwynia sericea, a spring flowering plant, and a tiny white daisy-like flower on a Slender Bottle-daisy, Lagenophora gracilis, which is a summer flowering plant.
Remember to take the Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet on your winter walks, as you may need help to identify the unexpected.