Friday, July 20, 2012

Styphelia triflora

Notice the unripe fruit top centre of picture
 Family: Ericaceae, Subfamily Styphelioideae

Common name: Five Corners

[Note: In The Pilliga, Styphelia triflora Group B and Styphelia triflora Subsp. Group D are recorded. I do not have the knowledge to separate these subspecies or identify them.]

Flowers: Styphelia triflora is generally recorded as having pink to red flowers, however, the ones I have seen are greenish-cream. The long, slender tubular flower has a hairy interior, with 5 lobes recurved tightly, and 5 protruding stamens. Single flowers grow from leaf axils. The fruit is ovoid and 6 to 8mm long. Flowering period is mainly Jun to Oct.

Leaves: Erect, alternate, crowded, 3 to 8mm wide, up to 3cm long, tapering to a sharp tip.

Habit and habitat: Styphelia triflora is an erect shrub up to 2mt tall (but generally smaller) growing in dry Callitris/Acacia open woodland and heath. I've seen this plant growing on open roadsides at the edge of forest on sandy soil. 

Crowded alternate leaves, single flower buds in leaf axils

Habit and habitat of Styphelia triflora

Westringia cheelii

Family: Lamiaceae

Common name: Mallee Rosemary

Flowers: Upper lip erect 2-lobed, lower lip spreading 3-lobed, white with purplish to brownish dots. Calyx green, outer surface glabrose (without hairs) - hairless calyx is the easiest feature to distinguish Westringia cheelii from Westringi rigida. Flowering period Aug to Nov.

Leaves and stems: Leaves are arranged in whorls of 3, 2mm wide and up to 7mm long, recurved (margins rolled under) slightly, with both surfaces sparsely hairy. Branchlets can have lateral shallow grooves.

Habit and Habitat: Westringia cheelii is a spreading shrub to 1.5mt high growing in mallee, woodland, and dry schlerophyll forest in sandy soil. It is recorded as common in the Pilliga Scrub, and I have seen it growing in heaths in the central Pilliga. It also occurs in Qld.
Note the hairless calyx, a distinguishing feature

Leaf margins slightly recurved, underside of leaf and stem has white hairs

Upper surface also has short white hairs

Westringia Cheelii habit and habitat in The Pilliga

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dodonaea heteromorpha

Winged seed capsules of Dodonaea heteromorpha (Propeller Bush)
Family: Sapindaceae

Common name: Propeller Bush,

Flowers and fruit: Flowers of all Dodonaea are tiny and fleeting and not often observed. The fruit is an identifying feature of the plants. The seed capsule is 4-winged (I've seen 5-winged capsules), and pale green to reddish-green. The fruit of this Dodonaea is distinctive and unmistakable.

Leaves and stems: Single leaves or leaflets are dark green and flattened.

Habit and Habitat: Dodonaea heteromorpha is an erect shrub to 3mts high. I've seen this plant growing in the heaths of the central Pilliga in dry sandy environments. It is also found in Qld and Vic.
Four-winged capsule

Five-winged capsule

Flattened segments of leaflet

Hymenochilus bicolor

The prominent black tip
Name change: Hymenochilus bicolor was previously known as Pterostylis bicolor.

Family: Orchidaceae

Common name: Black Tip Greenhood

Flowers: 3 to 15 small green flowers, each about 6mm long. The upper part of the flower forms a small blunt hood and the lower sepals are pouched. The small green lip has a prominent greenish-black rounded appendage. Flowering from Aug to Oct.

Leaves and stem: This greenhood orchid has a basal rosette of 5 to 12 crowded ovate leaves 2.5cm by 1.2cm, and a central stem to 35cm tall.

Habit and habitat: Hemenochilus bicolor is a terrestrial orchid occurring in scattered groups in grassland, grassy forest and woodland.
Labellum triggered with my disturbance, protecting pollen

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Isotoma axillaris

Rock Isotoma is a very attractive flower in the bush
 Family: Lobeliaceae

Common name: Rock Isotoma

Flowers: Flowers are pale blue to mauve, with a 25mm tube, and 5 equal spreading lobes 15 to 18mm long. There are many flowers on a plant, with each flower on a tall stem growing from a leaf axil.  Flowering period is Oct to May.

Leaves and habit: Leaves are narrow, up to 7cm long, and deeply divided into jagged lobes. Isotoma axillaris is a low bushy plant to 30cm tall.

Habitat: As its common name suggests, Rock Isotoma grows in a rocky habitat, usually crevices in boulders. I have seen it growing in sandstone outcrops in the eastern Pilliga. It is an instantly recognisable plant when in flower. Isotoma axillaris also grows in Qld and Vic in similar habitat.

The long tube is grooved. Flower and calyx lobes are spreading

Jagged leaves. Rocky habitat.

Ptilotus semilanatus

Family: Amaranthaceae

Common name: Mulla Mulla

Flowers: The bright pink to purple flowers are clustered in a terminal, broadly conical or semi-circular, woolly head 2.5 to 3cm wide.

Leaves and stem: Narrow green leaves can be up to 6cm long and often have 'crinkled' margins. Plant to 30cm high, single-stemmed or multi-branched.

Habit: A perennial plant appearing in loose groups after rain in spring and summer. A clump of Ptilotus semilanatus is a beautiful sight.

Habitat: In the Pilliga Ptilotus semilanatus grows on sandy soil in open woodland. It also occurs in dry inland areas of Qld and Vic.

Notice the crinkled-edged leaf bottom center of image

Ptilotus semilanatus leaf with 'crinkled' margin
Habit and habitat of Ptilotus semilanatus in the Pilliga Forests

Pterostylis boormanii

Pt. boomanii with labellum up

Family: Orchidaceae

Common name: Baggy Britches Greenhood

Flower: 2 to 6 flowers about 2cm long, dark reddish-brown with transparent markings in the hood. The densely hairy, broad, cupped lower sepals end in two long out-curved points. The thick brown lip has a central channel and white marginal hairs. Flowering period is Sept to Nov.

Leaves and stem: Pterostylis boormanii has a basal rosette of 6 to 12 leaves, often withered by flowering, and a central scape (stem) to 25cm tall.

Habit: This terrestrial orchid grows as scattered individuals or in small loose groups.

Habitat: Drier forests, especially Callitris (Cypress Pine) forests and woodland in well-drained position. Also occurs in Qld, Vic, SA.

Pterostylis boormanii with labellum (tongue) down ready for pollinators

Monday, July 16, 2012

Eremophila longifolia

Family: Myoporaceae

Common name: Berrigan, Emu Bush

Flowers: 1 to 5 brownish-red to dull orange pubescent (hairy) tubular flowers in leaf axils. Flowers are 25 to 30mm long, generally without spots, with stamens protruding past the mouth. Fruit is ovoid, green, shiny and smooth when immature, 5 to 12mm long. Flowering period is chiefly late winter to early summer, but can spot flower any time of year.

Leaves: Leaves are linear, up to 20cm long, pendulous, grey-green in colour, and covered in tiny hairs.

Habit: Eremophila longifolia is usually a large shrub to 2 metres, but can reach a height of 7 or 8 metres. It can be a spindly shrub or a neat, spreading shrub or tree. Eremophila longifolia can reproduce by root suckering, with an established shrub often being surrounded by a circle of smaller plants.

Habitat: Eremophila longifolia is widespread in almost all dry parts of Australia. In The Pilliga Forests I've seen it growing in Eucalypt woodland.

Stamens protrude from the tubular flower

Flowers grow from leaf axils

Pendulous linear grey-green leaves

Unripe fruit is smooth and shiny
More information:

Grevillea floribunda ssp floribunda

Grevillea floribunda subsp. floribunda

Family: Proteaceae

Common name: Seven Dwarfs Grevillea

Flowers: Inflorenscences hold 6 to 20 flowers. 4 segments of the flower form a tube rolling back to expose the flower parts. The pink to red style protrudes before being fully released.  The outside of the flower is covered in dense rusty-orange hairs. The end of the style (known as the stigmatic disc) carries pollen which is rubbed off by the pollinating agent. The disc then becomes sticky and receptive to pollen from another flower. The seed pod is 'boat shaped', covered in short pale grey hairs, with a curved tail. Main flowering period is spring, but flowers can occur at other times of the year.

Stem and leaves: Stems are pale grey-green covered in grey hairs giving a silvery appearance.  Leaves are alternate, up to 8cm long and 1.5cm wide, pale grey-green and covered in downy grey hairs.

Habit: A shrub from 0.5mt to 2mt in height, from sparse and spindly to reasonably dense.

Habitat: In the Pilliga Forests I have seen Grevillea floribunda subsp. floribunda growing at the edges of woodland. It grows west of the Great Divide in NSW, but not in desert country. It is also recorded as growing in Vic.
Grevillea floribunda subsp. floribunda

Pollen undisturbed (pollen on right has been collected)

Silver-green alternate leaves

Seed capsule covered in silver-grey hairs

Habit and habitat of G. floribunda ssp floribunda

More information:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Linaria arvensis

Linaria arvensis

Introduced plant (origin: garden escapee)

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Common name: Linaria

Flower: many tubular flowers of mauve, blue, purple or white - upper lip pointed up, larger lower lip recurved, curved spike from back of tube. Sepals hairy. Spring is the main flowering period.

Leaves and stem: 10 to 40cm tall plant, simple or multi-branched. Lower leaves are whorled, upper leaves alternate, linear up to 3.5cm long and 4mm wide.

Habit: Erect annual herb, usually massed.

Habitat: In the Pilliga, the introduced plant Linaria arvensis grows chiefly in disturbed areas along roadsides and abandoned railway tracks, and pastures. It also occurs in Vic, but not in coastal areas.

Whorled lower leaves of Linaria arvensis

A multi-branched example of Linaria arvensis in sandy soil on roadside

Single-stemmed Linaria arvensis

Common habitat of Linaria arvensis in the Pilliga is in pastures

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cyanicula caerulea

Cyanicula caerulea - formerly Caladenia caerulea

Name change: Cyanicula caerulea was formerly known as Caladenia caerulea.

Family: Orchidaceae

Common name: Blue Caladenia

Flowers: A single bright blue flower, about 2.5cm across, with an erect or recurved rear sepal and four other segments spreading forwards like the fingers of a hand. The curved lip has dark blue bars and two rows of yellow calli. Flowering period July to Sept.

Leaves and stem: One bright green, hairy, basal leaf, to 7cm to 0.5cm, which is usually flat on the ground. A thin wiry stem to 10cm tall.

Habit: A small colourful orchid which is often one of the first species to flower in spring, usually single plants scattered loosely.

Habitat: I have found Blue Caladenias on sandy soil, with or without leaf litter, in open woodland in the Pilliga. On the coast it occurs in heath, and can be found in Qld, WA, Vic, SA.
Cyanicula caerulea - Blue Caladenia

Sparsely hairy leaf and stem - in sandy soil

Buds, and size comparison with my hand

More Information: 

Petalochilus carnea

Petalochilus carnea (previously Caladenia carnea) - Pink Fingers

Name change: Petalochilus carnea has previously been known as Caladenia carnea.

Family: Orchidaceae

Common name: Pink Fingers

Flowers: 1 to 3 flowers, 2 to 3cm across, whitish-pink to pale pink to bright pink. An erect rear sepal and four other segments spreading forwards like the fingers of a hand. The lip has dark red bars and two rows of yellow calli. Flowering period Aug to Oct.

Stem and leaves: 1 dark basal green, erect, hairy leave to 15cm by 0.4cm. Thin wiry scape (stem) to 25cm in height.

Habit: A variable plant which can be locally common. Can occur as a single plant, but more commonly loosely scattered, often occurring with Cyanicula caerulea (Blue Caladenia).

Habitat: In the Pilliga I have found Petalochilus carnea in sandy soil either with or without leaf litter and sparsely scattered grasses. In NSW it grows in a variety of habitats from coastal heath and bushland to schlerophyll forest and woodland, often recolonising cleared areas. Also found in Qld, ACT, Vic, Tas and SA.
Petalochilus carnea - Pink fingers Caladenia

Linear, sparsely hairy leaf of Petalochilus carnea

Note in the last image, the two forward facing sepals are joined near the base. I think this is simply an abnormality rather a separate species. If anyone has any comment to make on this, I'd be pleased to receive an email.
More information: 

Pterostylis curta

Pterostylis curta - Blunt Greenhood

Family:  Orchidaceae

Common name: Blunt Greenhood

Flowers: A single large erect flower 3.5cm long, green and white with brown shading towards the apex. The labellum (tongue) is long and twisted to one side. This twist is an identifying feature of Pterostylis curta. Flowering period from Aug to Oct. [Note: anomalies can occur in the plant world, and a Pterostylis curta plant that I photographed in the Pilliga had two flowers rather than the specified single flower.]

Leaves and stem: A central stem to 30cm tall emerges from a basal rosette of 3 to 6 fleshy green, stalked leaves, up to 10cm by 3cm, often with wavy margin.

Habit: This terrestrial orchid often grows in extensive colonies and flowers freely. I was told about a colony of greenhood orchids in a particular place in the Pilliga and went to investigate, finding most had already perished with only a few remaining flowering. A colony of flowering Pterostylis curta can be quite spectacular.

Habitat: I found the Blunt Greenhoods growing in a damp grassy shady area in the Pilliga. All the images I have here indicate the lush growth of grasses and  herbs, and the usual habitat of Pterostylis curta is recorded as moist sheltered areas in open forest, woodland and heathy forest. It also occurs in Qld, Vic, Tas, SA, and ACT.

[Note: Pterostlis curta is not included in Leo Butler's April 2009 list of plants in the Pilliga Forests.]
Leaves of Pterostylis curta - notice the stalks

Stem with stem-hugging sheaths

2 flowers on the one plant is unusual

More Information: