October is a great month for trying to differentiate between our many daisies … not as difficult as pea flowers but still a challenge.
Firstly, let’s look at low-growing white flowers, and then work upwards in height. Blunt Everlasting, Argentipallium obtusifolium, is an attractive plant of heathland and woodlands with papery white flowers, a yellow centre, and sparse narrow blunt leaves.
If you are very lucky you may see the low-growing, and quite showy, large flowers of the Velvet Daisy-bush, Olearia pannosa subsp. cardiophylla. The abundant large, soft leaves are dark-green and shiny. It is listed as rare and vulnerable, and grows in only about five areas in Victoria. One spring, when bird watching in the Brisbane Ranges, I met someone who had a photo of it. I was delighted to help her with the name, and in turn was informed of its location. It can only be found [naturally ???] in Anglesea beside the Point Addis Road. The propagation group is having success with it, but I cannot get it to grow in my garden. There are some nice specimens in the Angair garden and the Historical Society garden, and it is featured in the Angair mosaic.
The Anglesea heathlands are a good place to look for the small Cyprus Daisy-bush, Olearia teretifolia. This quite compact bush, with cypress-like foliage, can be almost completely covered with masses of tiny white flowers.
I always check out the nature walk at Distillery Creek, Aireys Inlet, for two very similar large daisy-bushes that grow beside the track. Dusty Daisy-bush, Olearia phlogopappa var. continentalis, has profuse clusters of attractive white flowers which are very similar to the taller Snowy Daisy-bush, Olearia lirata.
Have a close look at the centre of the flowers early in flowering, as the Dusty Daisy-bush flower has a bright yellow centre, eventually fading to look like Snowy Daisy-bush which has a creamier centre. The petals on the Snowy Daisy-bush also have a more open look. The leaves are another point of identification, though they can be variable in size. The Snowy Daisy-bush has bigger leaves with a slight shine, and usually wavy edges.
We have several low-growing species of yellow daisies. I consider the queen of all our daisies to be Showy Podolepis, Podolepis jaceoides, a stunner with its bright, interesting flower-heads! The drooping buds are an added appeal. The dark-green, lance-shaped leaves are mostly at the base. They are quite rare in our district, with the only wild ones I know of growing just down from the Anglesea lookout. However, we are fortunate that they have been successfully grown in the Anglesea garden, and at the Allen Noble Sanctuary, and thus are easy to see.
Look out for the solitary flowers of Button Everlasting, Coronidium scorpiodes, previously Helichrysum scorpiodes, a common low-growing yellow daisy on moist heathlands and open forest such as Fraser Avenue. Its attractive, tightly packed flower-head runs a close second to Showy Podolepis. It has hairy grey-green leaves nearer the base.
In the heathlands I always enjoy seeing a daisy which was farmed by Aborigines for its tasty tuber. It is of course the Yam Daisy, which has recently received a ‘proper’ name, as it has been changed from Microseris sp.3, to Microseris walteri. The shiny, long, narrow-toothed leaves are quite distinctive. However, it is the bright yellow flower which stands out in the heathlands, looking like a superior version of the common introduced weed. It has modestly drooping buds like the Showy Podolepis.
There are eleven species of Groundsel or Fireweed, of which I can only identify three species, and Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet describes four species.
When walking along the clifftops at Aireys Inlet I look out for the showy flower-heads of Coastal Groundsel, Senecio pinnatifolius var. lanceolatus. It has succulent-like leaves which are bright green, narrow, and often slightly toothed.
And there is so much more to see!