This plant was unknown to us until recently, but suddenly Carolyn has seen it in all sorts of places. It is an erect to prostrate plant, up to 2.5m high, with a deep root. Maybe this root is why it has excellent drought tolerance, allowing it to retain its leaves through dry periods. The stems are woody at the base, with soft hairs. The leaves are in groups of three. Each is roughly oval, but with a toothed edge, almost hairless on top but with a soft down underneath. The small purple-blue peashaped flowers grow in groups of 3 along a flower spike, which sits above the leaves. The seed pods are small and hairy, and contain only 1 seed. We had excellent germination of local seed and will be planting them at the Cape this month. They grow mostly over springsummer. They are host plants for the spectacular chequered swallowtail butterfly. Lets hope we can attract some to the Cape!!!
It is the heavily lobed leaves of this plantain that
have given rise to its common name: you can easily see in the left hand photo,
the resemblance to a stag’s antlers. Those leaves are mostly hairy, and spread
out from a rosette at the base; underground is a strong taproot. The plant
itself is an annual, or short lived perennial, growing in the cooler months and
dying off over summer. The spring and summer flowers are tiny, forming a dense
cylindrical spike up to 12cm long, on a stout, hairy stalk. The plant can be a
good indicator of salinity: at low salinity, the plant is a dull grey-green,
while the higher the salinity, the redder the leaves. Originally from western
Europe, western Asia and the Mediterranean, this plant grows both in more
settled and in disturbed areas, in soil types ranging from sandy to loam or
clay. Young, tender leaves have been used in salads, and the plant has some
grazing potential for livestock.
There are quite a few sand-spurreys, and it can
be difficult to tell them apart. We thought this one was the non-native Spergularia media. However, thanks to Chris Brodie at the State
Herbarium, we now know it is a different spurrey, the native Spergularia tasmanica. A lover of sandy coastal swamps and
salty marshes, this small perennial has woody stems up to 40cm long. The first
2 photos above show the narrow fleshy leaves; these can be up to 80mm long, but
only 1-2mm wide. They aren’t really hairy, (so botanists say ‘glabrous’) and they
end abruptly in a sharp point (check out the word ‘mucronate’…isn’t that a
great word!). The springtime flowers have 5 petals, 5mm long, and are a pale pink
in colour. The 5 sepals sitting under the flower are 3-5mm. The photos above
were taken when the plants were setting seed; in the 2nd last photo,
you can see the seed pod, with the brown-black seeds inside. The seed itself, seen in the last photo, has a membranous
wing. You might need a magnifying glass to see it though, since the seeds are
only about 1mm long! The colour of these is what was used to distinguish this
plant from the other contender, Spergularia media.
Thank goodness for a camera that takes good images of seeds!!
Many of you will be familiar with this garden shrub. Yes, another garden escapee. The native range of this plant includes northern Africa (e.g. Morocco), southern Europe (e.g. France and Greece), the Indian sub-continent and western China. Oleander is an ornamental shrub up to 4m tall. It’s a hardy plant with lush green leaves that are lance-shaped, leathery and stiffly pointed, 7.5–20cm long and 1.3–2cm wide. Flowers comes in a range of colours, pink, red, white or apricot, 4–5cm across with five well separated petals at the tips of the branches. After flowering, you will find long narrow pods containing numerous silky hairy seeds. If you have oleanders in your garden, please prune after flowering to prevent the spread of seed. Both the leaves and flowers are toxic and deaths have been recorded from accidental ingestion, although this is rare. Sadly a lady in the USA died in the mid 80s after making a herbal tea from oleander leaves thinking they were Eucalyptus leaves. Thankfully not too many Aussies would make this mistake!!
There are many
beautiful yacca specimens on the peninsula… take a walk through Newland Head Conservation
Park to see forests of them! Their trunks are made of accumulated leaf bases, not wood,
so they are more of a grass than a tree, hence the common name. The yaccas around Cape Jervis have trunks
up to 4 metres tall, and flower spikes up to another 2.5 metres on top. Phenomenally
slow growth rates mean it takes a long time for a trunk to get to this size
though. Aboriginal peoples use this
plant for tools, drinks and navigation: the flowering
spike makes spears for fishing; the nectar from the flowers is a sweet drink;
the side the flowers opens first indicates north (sunnier side). The resin can
be used as a glue/adhesive; in fact, the botanical name Xanthorrhoea is from the Greek xanthos, meaning yellow, and rheo, meaning to flow; referring to the
resin. Many birds and insects are attracted to the flowers and they look great.
Might take a few decades before the ones we have planted flower!
This is a very little weed, just shin high …little in
size, but not in its ability to spread, though. It is widely naturalized over
large parts of SA, and consequently is regarded as an environmental weed here.
About 10cm underground you will find lots of little bulbs, with fibrous
coating. Above ground, you will see one leaf only per bulb, a long, narrow one
like that in the photos above, which arches over the ground. The spring flowers
are supported on a short, pale green stem. These flowers are actually quite
pretty. The 6 pointy petals are presented as two layers of three, one layer
sitting off-centre to the other. Pale purple with a darker central blotch and
yellow markings, they do resemble a miniature iris. Originally from South
Africa, the plant has made itself at home here. Kangaroos will eat the leaf
(which remains after the flower dies off) and wombats will dig up and feed off
the bulbs, especially in years of drought when not much other food is around.
(Photos: E. Cousins, flowering plant, C. Schultz, leaves, leaf tips, Cape Jervis;)
Lomandras, or mat rushes, are tufted, normally shin-high perennials with long, narrow, bluey-green leaves that are quite tough. There are several varieties growing at Cape Jervis, but this particular one, the scented mat rush, is probably the easiest to identify. How? Check out the tops of those blade-like leaves… they generally have rabbit ears! That is, instead of a single point at the end of the leaf, there are two sharp tips. It looks like the leaf has been eaten or otherwise damaged! From winter to spring, there are pretty clusters of creamy-white, scented flowers hidden in amongst the foliage. If you look carefully you might see that some plants have different flowers; although the separate male and female plants are hard to tell apart until they have seed. So start looking for these pretty soon in some grasslands near you!!
This weed is classed as an herb. No, not the sort used for flavouring, but in the botanical sense: it doesn’t have a woody stem, and when it has finished flowering, it dies down. The plant itself is fairly prostrate, with rigid branches up to 25cm long. Its leaves divide into 3 leaflets, each of which can be up to 11mm long, and 6mm wide. These leaflets can be oval or wedge-shaped, and finely toothed. They are also rough, being covered in hard but short rigid points. (Hence scabrum, for rough, as in scabs!) The pea flowers are white, and here is another great word for you: they are “sessile”. This means they are attached directly to the branch, with no stalk or peduncle.
Being an annual, the plant lives for less than a year, and reproduces from seed; each seedpod produces only one seed.
Originally from western Europe, the Mediterranean, western Asia, and north Africa, rough clover can now be found in Mediterranean type grasslands in South Australia, often on stony ground and rock crevices.
February is probably not the best time to be checking this small shrub out on our site at Cape Jervis. It will already be showing the effects of the hot, dry summer, but it is a survivor, and flowers for a lot of the year. The plant only grows to about 1m high, with lots of stems growing from the base. These tend to get a bit straggly over summer, and the leaves can brown off a bit. However, it will already have put on a great display of yellow flowers on those stems. Like most goodenias, the flowers have 5 petals, grouped as a pair and a trio, with each petal having a wavy edge. The leaves are somewhat sticky, and they smell. One of our friends actually terms it the stinky goodenia! However, it is the way the base of the leaf wraps around the stems that gives this plant its common name of clasping goodenia. Note how the leaves are long in relation to their width, and the edges are saw-toothed. Once you know which plant it is, you can recognise it very quickly, even at a distance.
We featured this South African incomer a few years ago, but given its preponderance around SA, we thought it was time to remind everyone of it…small plants are easy to hand pull, big ones set seed too fast! Hence it is good to be able to identify it quickly and eradicate, before it becomes too widespread in your area. This is a Weed of National Significance: “It is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.” Boneseed is aggressive and fast growing, degrading local bushland and hence food sources for native animals. It thrives on nutrient-poor soils, including coastal regions. Any wonder it likes Cape Jervis?
Look for an erect bright green shrub, with leaves having serrated margins. The daisy-type flowers are yellow, with 4–8 petals. It’s no wonder the species survives so well, when one plant can produce thousands of seeds, which can remain viable for more than 10 years!