Plant of the Month-April 2019


 (Xanthorrhoea semiplana ssp tateana)

(Photos: old plant, forest of plants; E. Cousins, Cape Jervis)

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!

Weed of the Month-April 2019


(Moraea setifolia)

(Photos: Flower, E. Cousins, Cape Jervis; flowers and thread like leaves, SA SeedBank,

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.