(Photos : E. Cousins, foliage, C. Schultz, flower head; at Cape Jervis)
This bushy shrub lives up to its name…or its name lives up to it! The leaves have a definite indentation at their tips, giving them a heart or wedge shape. The leaves are smooth, as you can see in the photo. What you can’t see is that they are hairy underneath. The star shaped flowers occur in dense little clusters, and are obviously very attractive to ants (see second photo above)!!! While the flower heads are whitish, the seed heads are blackish. These shrubs like the sand and limestone of the coast, but are still rare around the Fleurieu. In fact, this is the only plant we know of and unfortunately no seed formed this year.
(Fumaria capreolata)(Photos: E. Cousins, plant; close-up of flower head)
This scrambling weed is found in damp soils along creek banks, etc. Its soft, hairless foliage is heavily lobed (a bit like flat parsley leaves in shape, and maidenhair fern in softness). The droopy flowers are tubular, clustered on a large bract. Each flower is white, tipped with a distinctive purple-red blotch. About 3 weeks after the first flowers appear, seeds are already maturing. These can stay viable for years: 3-5 years if they remain in the top 5 cm of soil, but up to 20 years if they have been carried 15cm down e.g. by ants or soil disturbance.
ONE-SIDED CREAMY CANDLES
(Stackhousia aspericocca ssp. one-sided inflorescence)
(Photos : E. Cousins, a patch at Cape Jervis; C. Schultz, close-up of flower & bracts)
We were lucky enough to see these flowering beautifully in a remnant vegetation patch at Cape Jervis in late September. The bright green patches attracted our attention from quite a distance away, even though the leaves are only about 30cm long. The flower spikes do stand quite a bit higher, with yellow flowers on just one side, as the name suggests. These flowers are tubular with 5 little lobes at the top, and a conspicuous green bract plus two smaller ones at the flower base. We have often seen a different version of creamy candles, one with creamy-white flowers all around the stem, but this was the first time we had seen these ones. Very pretty!
(Photos: E. Cousins, a 10cm plant, close-up of 15mm flower; Cape Jervis)
These little weeds grow from small perennial corms. In late autumn they produce smooth, cylindrical, wiry, bright green leaves which are followed til November by the flowers. Each star-shaped flower has its own stem from the base, like the leaves. The short-lived flowers are 6-petalled, pale pink-purple with a short yellow tube at the centre. Plants die off in summer heat, when roots pull the corms further underground to survive the surface heat til the following year. Pigs will eat the corms, but otherwise the plant has no fodder value. It can take over a lawn in just a few seasons. This is not really a grass as the common name would suggest; that name is from the fact that heavy infestations occurred around Guilford, WA. The botanical name is from Romulus, one of the founders of Rome…a bit international, given the plant is originally from South Africa!