Plant of the Month-May 2019


(Spergularia tasmanica)

(Photos: C. Schultz, Cape Jervis)

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!!

Weed of the Month-May 2019


(Nerium oleander)


(Photos: C. Schultz. flowers close up, young plant, from above, seed pods, Sorata St, Cape Jervis)

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!!