Monday, January 21, 2013

Spear Lilies, and a Great Blogsite

Robert Ashdown has posted a very good article, with wonderful photos, of this plant which can be found growing naturally on the Great Dividing Range between Goomburra and Cunningham's Gap.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rough Saw-sedge

Gahnia aspera
These plants are often seen in professionally designed gardens, and as you can see, they are beautiful plants, especially when in fruit.
They are undeniably handsome, but the sharp-edged leaves cut any piece of human flesh that happens to brush past them. Children’s tender skin is particularly vulnerable.
I have been told that the foliage and flower heads are used in fresh and dried flower arrangements. They can’t be much fun to work with!
However, provided they can be placed where this won’t cause a problem these plants are worth growing just for their value to our local wildlife. Native to the dry rainforests and grasslands along the Range, they are hosts for small butterflies, and their very hard red seeds are a favourite food of rosellas.

 Aborigines used to pound the edible seeds to make a flour, but they are very hard, and apparently quite able to defeat an ordinary kitchen blender. They have also been used as beads.
These frost and drought hardy plants should certainly be included in bush regeneration plantings and perhaps bush tucker gardens, but are best left out of small suburban gardens.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Comment Worth Repeating

Ian Menkins of Oakey added a comment to my blog of a few weeks ago, on the subject of Hawkweed Picris evae:
Picris barbarorum is another rare species on the Darling Downs. It tends to be found further west on the plains, rather than on the eastern foothills where P. evae is more likely to be found. P. barbarorum does not have a woolly coma like P. evae. Instead there are bristly hairs in neat vertical lines. P. barbarorum is extinct in Victoria, the only record being from an Aboriginal woman's dilly bag in early Colonial times. I am not sure of its status in NSW. It can be quite common here on the grasslands of the Darling Downs, particularly when rains have followed a very long dry spell. But it can then become very scarse for decades. In the garden it performs very much like P. evae and comes up reliably from seed each year. The plant has similar growth habit and flowers to P. evae. on Hawkweed”
Thanks for the interesting comment, Ian. I have never seen P. barbarorum. I think it would be easy to overlook, as Picris plants are not particularly conspicuous among the general vegetation when not flowering or in seed.
 A photo of it can be found at
Conservation of rare plants like these, with no particular garden-appeal, depends heavily on the preservation of natural areas, by private landowners or in government-managed reserves. This is only likely to become more difficult with time, a good reason for us all to support whatever conservation efforts are in existence, and to remind all three levels of government, from time to time, that we do care about environmental matters.


Casearia multinervosa

(pronounced Cazzie-ARea
This plant is in fruit in Peacehaven Botanic park at Highfields at present.
A local plant, (it grows naturally in dry rainforests from the Richmond River to Bundaberg, including Redwood Park, near Toowoomba, ) it has the potential to be one of our most useful garden shrubs.
These specimens are growing in Peacehaven Botanic park at Highfields, in a particularly sunny and dry corner, where they are demonstrating their ability to look lush and make a neat green screen, despite difficult conditions. These plants have not been watered since they were planted five years ago, and thrived despite the drought.

Casearia has dense clusters tiny, perfumed,  greenish-white flowers in spring, which develop into these yellow seed capsules in summer.

In nature, this little tree is part of the sub-canopy in the hoop pine forests which were once common along the range in our part of Queensland.
While it is capable of growing into a neat little tree, with a rounded shady canopy, it is more usually multi-stemmed in the wild. Gardeners can encourage the latter tendency by tip-pruning when the plant is young.
   Always a neatly shaped plant, it is suitable for formal applications.