Why wait for spring to see examples of our wonderful Victorian wild flora? There are plenty out there right now.
This article was first published in the 11 July 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Words and photos by ‘Gouldiae’.
Many of our native wildflowers and shrubs are adapted to being at their best during the colder months. Some wattles, hakeas, heaths and correas can all be found in flower at this time of year.
Look closely at ground level and many of the terrestrial orchids will have their strange flower heads open.
Mosses and ferns often look their best during periods of cold temperatures.
Victoria is home to about sixty species of ‘greenhood orchids’ and most of them flower in autumn and winter. Greenhoods are terrestrial orchids belonging to the genus Pterostylis and grow in a wide variety of habitats and climates.
Greenhood orchids are pollinated by insects that are attracted to the plant and crawl inside the hood to get to the nectar and become momentarily trapped. As they crawl and fly around to escape, they collect pollen on their bodies before flying to the next plant and repeating the process, ensuring fertilization.
Any piece of heathland at present more than likely contains some of Victoria’s floral emblem, the Common Heath.
Epacris impressa was declared our floral emblem in 1958. Epacris means “upon a hill,” describing the elevated habitat often preferred by the species and impressa is Latin for ‘indented’, referring to the five small dints at the base of the flower.
Common Heath flowers can vary in colour from brilliant scarlet to soft pink to pure white and it is not unusual to discover a full range of colours in one location.
Correa lawrenceana, or Moun-tain Correa, is an understory shrub or small tree that prefers wet forest habitat and flowers in winter and spring.
Its tubular flowers are mostly green-yellow.
There are seven or eight forms of Mountain Correa with the green flowering variety the most abundant in this region.
The species is endemic to Australia and is found on the wetter slopes of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and in Tasmania.
Another Correa species that flowers at this time of year, Common Correa or Correa reflexa, is more likely to be found on the lower country and in more ‘heathy’ habitat.
Common Correa is a variable species and there are numerous hybrids and variations developed for the nursery trade. It is always a delight to come across the scarlet flowers on a low shrub, often hidden among other understory plants.
Many ferns look their best during winter. Coral Fern, Gleichena sp, is found growing in moist, usually highly humid conditions – creek banks, waterfalls and so on.
Mosses too like cooler wetter habitats of course and will often grow on different substrates – dead logs, live trees, rocks, leaf litter, etc. Dawsonia superba, Giant Moss, is the tallest moss in the world and grows to 60cm tall.
Mosses are flowerless plants that produce spores from a spore capsule. Giant Moss spore capsules appear on tall slender stalks above the canopy and at ‘fruiting time’ provide a fascinating image of a minuscule forest.
This is a great time of year to rug up and get out to see some of Victoria’s most wonderful floral species, and we have plenty of fine examples on our doorstep.
For more from the author visit gouldiaesblog.blogspot.com.au.
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