(Photos: C. Schultz, whole plant, developing seed heads, mature seed, Cape Jervis)
If looking for a neat and tidy native grass species, then fox-tail mulga-grass could be the one for you! Its stems are 20-50 cm high, with a cluster of leaves at the base. Expect this perennial grass to die back over summer unless given extra water. The grey silky flowering spikes resemble a fox’s tail, hence the common name; and the species name “alopecuroidea” which comes from the Greek alopex, fox + oura, tail + oidea, -like). Native grasses provide shelter for many small creatures including skinks and finches, and they attract insects for other animals to eat. The seed of native grasses are a really important food source for many small birds. Look for this grass in spring, down by the ferry terminal where we will be planting it in the coastal display garden, south of the ferry terminal, along the Heysen Trail.
(Photos, C. Schultz: 3-9 month old seedlings, 3-4 year old plants, twisted open seed pods, Cape Jervis)
Another repeated weed of the month – because this woody weed just keeps coming back. Its distinctive seeds are attractive to birds who spread this seed far and wide around the Cape. It’s the distinctive black seed, surrounded by a ring of red, like a blood-shot eye, that gives Cyclops its name. Cyclops was a mythical Greek giant who only had one eye. The old seed pods are really twisted…one way to identify this plant. The flowers are round, unlike those on Acacia longifolia ssp. sophorae, which can look similar if you only look at the leaves.
Native to W.A., this plant is now a weed in S.A. where it rapidly crowds out local plants. The verges of Sorata St were cleared of cyclops a few years ago and now they are covered again. Cyclops thrives on limestone and sandy soils, and is very hardy even when exposed to salty winds. It can flower after only 2 or 3 years and seeds can germinate with just a whiff of moisture.
The only good thing about A. cyclops is that it does not require poisoning to eliminate, just pull out small seedlings or use loppers to cut the stem at ground level.