Plant of the Month-March 2019

SCENTED MAT RUSH

(Lomandra effusa)

(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!!

 

Weed of the Month-March 2019

ROUGH CLOVER

(Trifolium scabrum)

(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.

 

Plant of the Month – Feb 2019

CLASPING GOODENIA

(Goodenia amplexans) (Photos: Flower, E.Cousins; Cape Jervis; whole plant, https://spapps.environment.sa.gov.au/SeedsOfSA/speciesinformation.html?rid=2105)

February is probably not the best time to be checking this small shrub out on our site at Cape Jervis. It will already be showing the effects of the hot, dry summer, but it is a survivor, and flowers for a lot of the year. The plant only grows to about 1m high, with lots of stems growing from the base. These tend to get a bit straggly over summer, and the leaves can brown off a bit. However, it will already have put on a great display of yellow flowers on those stems. Like most goodenias, the flowers have 5 petals, grouped as a pair and a trio, with each petal having a wavy edge. The leaves are somewhat sticky, and they smell. One of our friends actually terms it the stinky goodenia! However, it is the way the base of the leaf wraps around the stems that gives this plant its common name of clasping goodenia. Note how the leaves are long in relation to their width, and the edges are saw-toothed. Once you know which plant it is, you can recognise it very quickly, even at a distance.

 

 

Weed of the Month- Feb 2019

BONESEED

(Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp monilifera)

(Flower Image from https://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Images/ chrysanthemoides_monilifera_subsp._monilifera /chrysanthemoidesmoniliferamonilifera8.jpg, sighted 3-1-2019; seedling and seed, C. Schultz, Cape Jervis)

We featured this South African incomer a few years ago, but given its preponderance around SA, we thought it was time to remind everyone of it…small plants are easy to hand pull, big ones set seed too fast! Hence it is good to be able to identify it quickly and eradicate, before it becomes too widespread in your area. This is a Weed of National Significance: “It is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.”[1] Boneseed is aggressive and fast growing, degrading local bushland and hence food sources for native animals. It thrives on nutrient-poor soils, including coastal regions. Any wonder it likes Cape Jervis?

Look for an erect bright green shrub, with leaves having serrated margins. The daisy-type flowers are yellow, with 4–8 petals. It’s no wonder the species survives so well, when one plant can produce thousands of seeds, which can remain viable for more than 10 years!

See http://weeds.ala.org.au/WoNS/bitoubush/ for management plans for both boneseed and its close relative (and companion in weed-crime), bitou bush.

[1] http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/publications/guidelines/wons/c-monilifera-monilifera.html

 

Plant of the Month- Jan 2019

ROCK WATTLE

(Acacia rupicola)

(Photos: C. Schultz; Rapid Bay)

There are lots of prickly wattles; you are probably used to seeing one called Acacia paradoxa (Kangaroo Thorn). This is another prickly one, also with ball-shaped yellow flowers on short stems from the leaf base. However, whereas Acacia paradoxa has thorns growing from the leaf bases, it is the leaves themselves that are prickly on Acacia rupicola, the rock wattle: there is a sharp point at each leaf tip. Those leaves are lance-shaped, about 10 times as long as they are wide: 2.5cm to 2.5mm! The shrub itself grows to about 2-2.5m, is rigid and glabrous (smooth). Young growth can be a bit sticky, and the bush can have a smell of resin. The books say flowers finish in November, so the long curved brown seed pods should be visible in January. Nature doesn’t always read the books – these photos at Rapid Bay mid December had both flowers and ripe seedpods. Don’t get stabbed by those leaves when harvesting seed, and look carefully for insect life! This well camouflaged orb- weaver is the same colour as the dying flowers.

 

Weed of the Month-Jan 2019

SALTY ICE PLANT

(Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)

 (Photos E. Cousins, Cape Jervis; young plant, close up of leaf, flowering plant showing summer stress)

We have featured this weed before, but a recent posting of its picture on SA Natureteers with a request for identification prompted us to revisit it. The response to the posting from many readers was immediate: GET RID OF IT! The Diggers Club[1] states this plant “may naturalise in coastal areas” and “Not for SA”…and anyone who wanders around Cape Jervis over winter-summer can see why! This annual herb is a prostrate succulent, about 10 cm high.  Its leaves are covered in large glistening lumps, or bladder cells of water, giving the plant its common name. The plant grows rapidly over winter, but its growth slows in spring. Dry summers can kill the plants, but by then, its seeds have probably already been spread by rabbits (who eat them). Ice plants have several characteristics which make life hard for their neighbours: they can absorb a lot of moisture from the soil, outcompeting most other species; high levels of nitrate which build up under the plants can be harmful to other species; salt accumulates in the plant over its lifetime, and this is then released into the soil when the plant dies back in summer. Less salt-tolerant species suffer because of the salt which can inhibit both grown and germination of native species.

[1] https://www.diggers.com.au/shop/edibles/salty-ice-plant/s601/

Plant of the Month – December 2018

WEDGE-LEAF DAISY

(Brachyscome cuneifolia)

(Photos: C. Schultz; Whole plant, flower and seed; Lands End, Cape Jervis)

There are several pretty daisies on the Fleurieu – the minnie daisy, the satin everlasting, and this one. It is only shin high, with a rosette of leaves at the base. ‘Folium’ means leaf and ‘cuneus’ means wedge, in Latin, hence the common name. The leaves are lobed, and pubescent … which is a botanist’s way of saying they have hairs. Actually, the ‘…come’ part of Brachyscome comes from a Greek word for hair, but the hair on a seed which aids dispersal, not the hair on the leaf! The spring flowers are like your typical daisy… white with a yellow centre, so how can you tell this daisy from others? Well, the SA Seedbank helped out here. You actually need to see the seeds to be sure you have the name right. The seed are flat brown ovals, with tiny hairs on broad margins. The wedge-leaf daisy is rare on the Fleurieu, so we are hoping the seed germinate!

Weed of the Month – December 2018

COMMON or SOWN VETCH

(Vicia sativa)

(Photos: E.Cousins, Cape Jervis; a stem, with leaves and seedpods; back of leaf)

There are at least three weedy vetches: the common (or sown), the hairy and the spurred. All are weak annual herbs, with long twining stems. This particular one, sown vetch, can be identified by several leaf characteristics. Firstly, leaves are paired and opposite each other on the stems. Secondly, each of the leaves has a broad flattish top, with a point at the centre top. This can be seen clearly in the second photo above. Also, the leaves are hairy, front and back, also clearly visible in the second photo! The springtime flowers look like those on a sweet pea, but occur singly or in pairs at a leaf junction, and not on a long stem like the sweet pea. These flowers are purply-red to purple in colour. The seedpods also look like those on sweet peas, etc… long straight pods that go brown on ripening. The picture above on the left shows that multiple pods on a stem are common. Originally a fodder plant, this is now a weed over south-east SA.

Plant of the Month – November 2018

SCENTED GROUNDSEL

(Senecio odoratus)

(Photos: E.Cousins; stems; flower head; leaves)

Senecios come in many forms, and this month we are featuring both a goody and a baddy. Both have clusters of yellow flowers over summer. However, those of the scented groundsel (our goody) don’t have a disc of long petals; the flowers tend to form tubes with a ‘fluff’ of short (4-6mm) petals on top. Also, the leaf shape and colour is very different in our two Senecios. The dull grey-green leaves of the native scented groundsel, Senecio odoratus, are oval-shaped, with a very distinctive vein down the centre. They are quite firm. The edges have fine teeth at the edge (whereas the South African daisy, Senecio pterophorus has larger indentations on the edges). The top of the leaf is fairly hairless, but the back looks like it is covered with fine cobwebs. Where the leaf clasps the stem, the leaf curls in on itself a bit.

The scented groundsel makes a good host plant for the endangered native parasitic plant Orobanche cernua var. australiana (see plant of the month, Jan 2017).

Weed of the Month – November 2018

SOUTH AFRICAN DAISY

(Senecio pterophorus)

(Photos: E.Cousins; weed habit; a stem; close-up of wings; leaf comparison)

This is another weedy Senecio. It is tall (up to 1.5m high), with multiple stiff stems. These can become quite woody. Yellow daisy-like flowers appear in summer in groups at the top of the stems.  It is really easy to identify this Senecio because where the leaves join the stem, they keep going down that stem to form wings (see  3rd photo above).  So when you run your hand down the stem you can feel these as flappy bits.

The leaves themselves are lance-shaped, and toothed. They are darker on top, pale underneath. The 4th photo compares the leaves of the weed (on the right) with the leaves of Senecio odoratus (left) (see Plant of the Month).