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Now that the winter quarter has begun, we are seeing the results of one of the driest autumns ever recorded.

However, over the last four weeks there have been useful rains, and already there is a faint green shawl spreading over many areas of the bushland. So keep fingers crossed and hope these gentle rains will persist, and the awaited spring will once again colour our world.

Prickly Cryptandra, Cryptandra tomentose
A small shrub, about 30 cm high, widespread locally, near coastal heath and woodlands. The foliage is slightly rough to the touch. It has clusters of small tubular flowers which appear towards the ends of the branches. The fruit splits into three fruitlets. An endemic Australian genus of about 40 species, it is highly scented, and as the flowers age they turn from white to pink to rose-red.

Prickly Cryptandra

Sweet Wattle, Acacia suaveolens
A 1-3 m x 2.5m open spreading shrub. Likes well drained soils and is found in many areas along the Surf Coast. It has bluish-green phyllodes to 15 cm long (modified leaf stems). It is the earliest Acacia to flower from April-Oct. It has perfumed cream flowers arranged along the stem. After flowering, attractive pale bluish seed pods appear that eventually turn brown and leathery before splitting in a twisted way to release black shiny seeds. It is a fast-growing shrub and makes attractive windbreaks. Responds well to pruning after flowering.

sweet wattleSweet Wattle

Red Ironbark, Eucalyptus tricarpa
An easily recognised tall 10-30 m upright tree with open crown and narrow greyish-green leaves of 140 mm x 18 mm. It has large diamond-shaped buds in threes along the stalks, and profuse cream, sometimes pink, flowers from May-December with large barrel-shaped fruit. It likes well drained soils and can tolerate long dry periods. The rough dark brown bark and bluish foliage makes this a very popular ornamental tree. It is valued for its honey and durable timber. Essential oils are extracted from the foliage, and the wood has been used to make shields.

red ironbark flowers

red ironbark budsRed Ironbark

Small-flowered Mat-rush, Lomandra micrantha subsp. micrantha
A small perennial herb, widespread amongst grasses in open forest and heathland. It is tolerant of most soil types and forms small tussocks of narrow, flexose leaves of 70 cm, hiding the flower stem. It flowers from April to December. The flower stems bear small greenish-yellow nearly transparent flowers scattered along the flower stem. These Lomandras have separate male and female plants.

matrushSmall-flowered Mat-rush

Slender Dodder-laurel, Cassytha glabella forma dispar
This plant is found in dry sandy heathlands. The seedlings grow until they touch a host plant. The roots die after suckers form along the slender stems. The stems are green, so have some chlorophyll to form food; therefore, the dodder-laurels are only partially parasitic. They obtain water and minerals from their host plants, but do not appear to harm them to the extent that they die. They have small whitish clusters of flowers followed by reddish-orange spindle-shaped fruit with prominent longitudinal ribs. The Aborigines infused the fruit to treat fever. Dodder-laurels are found in all states except N.T.

slender dodder-laurelSlender Dodder-laurel

Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.
Flora of the Otway Plain and Ranges 2
Flora of Melbourne – 3rd enlarged ed.

Philippa Hesterman
Photographs- Kindly supplied by Margaret MacDonald