Plant of the Month-July 2018



(Sclerolaena uniflora)

(Photos: C. Schultz, stem, fruit with horns; Cape Jervis)

There are both one-spine and two-spine saltbushes, which are very similar except for the shape of those horns you see on the fruit in the second photo. The ones pictured are just that…little horns on those lumps. In the two-spine saltbush, they are longer and spikier, more like spines than horns! Like a lot of Cape Jervis plants, the one-spine saltbush is about ankle-high. It is a sprawling perennial, with grey-green hairy leaves crowded along the stems. The leaves are about 1cm long and narrow, and possibly flat on one side. As you can see from the photos, the leaves are really fleshy, or succulent. Yellow-red, single flowers appear in October, to be followed by those hairy horned fruits. The spines are only about 2mm long, and one (or both) might not even be there. There should be a lump though, even if you can’t see the spine.

Weed of the Month-July 2018


 (Euphorbia terracina)

(Photos: Leaves and flowers; sighted 13-6-18; Mass of false capers – the red tinge in the “middle ground”, photo  E. Cousins, Sorata St )

Since the seeds of this perennial germinate over autumn-spring, you will see new ones emerging now. The false caper is about thigh high. Older plants have 4-5 erect, pale green leafy stems emerging from a single stem at the base.  The leaves alternating up these stems are fairly spread out. They can be up to 65mm long, 2-10mm wide! They don’t have petioles (little stems attaching the leaf to the main stems). Up to 6 flower stems branch out at the end of the main stems with 5 leaves just under the division. The flower stems can branch again and again, and under each fork you will spot two egg-shaped leaves then a cup-shaped cluster of 8-15 male flowers with a single female flower. The flower head is yellow-green. Watch for them from July-October. Next season, new stems can form from the old crown. Small or isolated patches can be hand-weeded. There is a strong tap root with horizontal laterals. However, as with some of the other Euphorbias, this one can exude a corrosive milky sap when you break the stem so be careful if hand pulling…wear gloves. Exploding seed capsules can send seeds several metres away so try to control weeds BEFORE flowers appear!

Plant of the Month-May 2018


(Melaleuca lanceolata)

(Photos: C. Schultz. Leaves and insect-attracting flowers)

Recently we featured Totem Poles, Melaleuca decussata. The Dryland Tea-tree is another of the pretty melaleucas at the Cape. Both have a similar growth habit: lovely compact shrubs with elongated leaves about 1cm long. The clusters of flowers differ though in colour and shape, with the Dryland Tea-tree having white flowers, not forming the tight purple cylinder of the totem pole. Also their leaves are placed alternately, rather than opposite each other, along the rough-barked stems. And the fruit are smooth and spherical, (not like the little cups built into the stems of the totem pole!) Plant one of each maybe…the totem poles flower spring-summer, the dryland tea-tree in summer-autumn. The dryland tea-tree is a really important habitat shrub as it provides nectar when not much else is flowering. Check out all the insects on the flowers!

Weed of the Month-May 2018


(Cotyledon orbiculata)

(Photo: E. Cousins; plant on knoll above ferry terminal, Cape Jervis)

No, there are not a lot of these plants growing wild around Cape Jervis. We only know of this one outside of gardens in the area. We thought we would use it though as our Weed of the Month, because it illustrates a recurring theme: a weed is a plant growing where it shouldn’t be, and garden plants can become weeds if they escape the garden! This succulent has grey-green leaves that are rounded, with a slight tip. There is a distinctive red line around the edge of the leaves. The red tubular flowers hang down from the top of spikes that stand out above the leafy part of the plant.  The ones in the photo above were on their last legs, hence their brown, not red, colour! Earlier in the season, they would have attracted birds and bees to their nectar. A lovely contrast plant in the garden, good in sun or shade, and with little rainfall… just please make sure it stays in your garden, and doesn’t escape into areas of native vegetation!