SCENTED MAT RUSH
(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!!
(Photos: C. Schultz, Cape Jervis)
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.