Plant of the Month – November 2015


(Acacia spinescens)


(Photos: E. Cousins, habitat, stems and flowers; Cape Jervis)

These shrubs were flowering spectacularly around Cape Jervis in September. The half-ball flowers are bright yellow, and cling to the branches with not much stalk visible. They contrast brilliantly with the grey-green branches. Touch the end of a branch and you will quickly learn where the name of this wattle comes from… there is a sharp tip to each branch! In fact, the whole shrub is quite rigid. You’ll notice something else about this shrub; there aren’t any ‘true’ leaves. So it really is quite an architectural plant for your garden. They will grow from shin-high at Cape Jervis to waist-high further from the coast.

Weed of the Month – November 2015


(Arctotheca calendula)

(Photos: E. Cousins; flowers; plant; a patch at Cape Jervis.)

We have seen large patches of this weed at Cape Jervis, and also in Deep Creek CP. It likes both disturbed sites and natural areas: wasteland, pastures, coastal environs, grasslands, etc. So not a very choosy plant about habitat, unfortunately! It flowers in late winter-spring, when the yellow, daisy-like flowers are very distinctive, with their black centres and a single ring of petals. Before the flowers, you’ll see a rosette of ground-hugging leaves, heavily lobed, with a few hairs on top but felt-like underneath. The flower stems are very hairy. It spreads only by seed. These can spread short distances by wind, but also on people and animals. So be careful to clean tools and footware etc., if you work near them!! Once seeds set, to control this environmental weed, you need to poison or dig out the tap roots. Just slashing won’t work!

Plant of the Month – October 2015


(Caesia calliantha)

(Photos: J. Reid, E. Cousins; plant, flowering stalk, single flower; Cape Jervis )

What a stand-out blue in those petals! It certainly makes the flowers easily spotted in the region. And the colour doesn’t stop with the six petals…look at those lovely bands of white, purpley-blue and yellow on the stamens. Even the strappy green leaves are a rich colour. You will find this shin-high plant in grasslands, and the grassy understorey of bush, particularly if there is damp sandy or clay soil. The flowers appear in clusters of 1-3, along a stem that grows to 50cm high. The blue spiral shape you see in the last photo is actually a dying flower, not a brand new one unfurling. Look out for the flower stalks in spring and summer; after that, you might find the fruit capsules instead.

Weed of the Month – October 2015


(Oxalis pes-caprae)


(Photos: E. Cousins, patch of wasteland full of soursobs; leaf;  flower stem.)

We all know this one, don’t we? Originally introduced as a garden ornamental, soursobs certainly introduce a lot of bright yellow into the garden over winter/spring, with those prolific clusters of flowers…just a pity it is SO invasive!  A significant environmental weed in S.A., it seems to take over suburban gardens and wastelands for several months of the year. A rosette of heart-shaped leaves appear at ground level, followed by the flower stalk. It isn’t enough to rip the fleshy plant out. Underground, there is a tuber-like root, and bulbs and bulbils that persist from year to year, and from which the plant reproduces. You need to be persistent yourself to eradicate these weeds! Glyphosates can be used; grubbing out is difficult because the small bulbs can be left behind, or spread by the soil movement.