(Photos: E. Cousins. Leaves and flower; fruits )
Like purple flowers? Maybe this melaleuca is the shrub for you! Look at those pretty little brushes. Around Cape Jervis, these shrubs grow to a couple of metres tall, with a slender growth habit. In a garden situation though they can be pruned to keep them more rounded, and the foliage green and thick. The leaves are small (about 15mm long) and grey-green, providing a nice contrast with those purple brushes of flowers that appear in springtime. Look at the placement of the leaves on the stems: two pairs sit at right angles to each other, forming an X. (That’s where the decussata in the name comes from, Latin for ‘shaped like an X’.) The fruits containing the seeds are those woody grey-brown bumps you can see embedded in the stems in the second photo. Also bird attracting, what is not to like about this shrub?
SCABIOSA or PINCUSHION
(Photos,E. Cousins: young plant; clumps browning off, Cape Jervis)
This weed, originally from South Africa, is a real problem on our reserve at Cape Jervis. If in March you keep walking through stiff, crunchy dried clumping plants with the occasional purple flower, you are probably walking in a scabiosa patch! The scabiosa leaves are 5-9 cm long, and 1-2 cm wide, deeply lobed, and form a rosette at ground level, above a sturdy tap root. When flowering, the plants are about 60 cm tall at Cape Jervis, with flowers held above the basal rosette on long, spindly stems. They look a bit like daisies, and range in colour from white through pink and purple to dark red. The photo above of a flower not fully open shows a multitude of funnel-shaped petals. Flowers usually appear September to March, but you’ll see some most of the year around here. This weed spreads by seed, travelling by wind, water and on vehicles. Control when plants are immature, and before flowering, with herbicides or by hand pulling. Otherwise, you will end up with clumps browning off from February, leaving those stiff dead stems and many, many viable seed heads!