This month I have highlighted a few plants that can be challenging to identify.
Our correas (sometimes called ‘Native Fuchsia’) are one example. White Correa, Correa alba, has been flowering for some time in coastal areas such as the Aireys Inlet clifftops. If you look carefully, you may notice that there are two varieties. Enid Mayfield in Flora of the Otway Plain & Ranges 2 describes the leaves of the more common Correa alba var. alba as being elliptic (shaped like a flattened circle with both ends alike) and the apex rounded, with an upper surface becoming glabrous (without hairs). However I have noticed that leaves can be quite variable, even on the same plant, and while being usually rounded, sometimes taper to a point. Correa alba var. pannosa has smaller and circular leaves which are moderately matted-woolly on the upper surface. The leaves of both varieties are pale and matted-woolly underneath. The white flowers are not fused and tubular like other correas, but are free and spreading.
Common Correa, Correa reflexa, which is quite widespread in the district, also challenges us. We have always incorrectly called it var. reflexa when it is in fact var. speciosa, and called Eastern Correa by Enid Mayfield. The most obvious difference is in the way the two leaves, at the base of the long tubular flowers, face. The paired leaves of var. reflexa bend down and may clasp the base of the tubular flower, while the leaves of var. speciosa fan out from the flower. Perhaps it’s best to just enjoy the delightful, dangling brilliant red flowers, with a curled-out green tip and stamens peeping out. However, just to confuse us, there is also a green form of the same species called Green Correa, but I presume it is var. speciosa. What do you think?
Be on the lookout for another widespread and appealing tubular flower, Cranberry Heath, Astroloma humifusum. This challenges us in a different way as the flowers are difficult to see clearly, hiding amongst the mat-like, bluish-green, fine-pointed foliage. However I think that this small gem is worth getting down on hands and knees for. The Aborigines called this plant Bagud, and the berries which will follow were eaten by them when ripe.
There are two species of large Sheoaks, Allocasuarinas, in flower, which challenge us as to their species and gender. The female plants are easy to identify as they sport lovely round, hard, serrated nuts from previous seasons…so tactile, and nice for small children to use in play.
Female Drooping Sheoak
Right now they also have small globular orange to reddish flowers along the branches that will turn into the distinctive nuts.
The male plants are currently giving a soft autumn glow to our bush. In coastal areas it is the Drooping Sheoak, Allocasuarina verticillata, with long dangling tassels, and further inland it is Black Sheoak, Allocasuarina littoralis, with upright tassels.
Male Drooping Sheoak
Closeup of flowers
Male Black Sheoak
Enjoy your autumn walks and plant challenges, which may be helped by carrying Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.