Wildflower season in the foothill forests is an ever-changing parade of colour. The first wave, in early August, is purple hoveas and hardenbergia, offset by yellow wattle blossoms. Then we have a gold and orange pea party as all the ‘egg and bacon’ shrubs and groundcovers come into flower. But now, in early summer, it is time for some very bright individuals.
We have already seen the flowering of one of our most exquisite blooms – the Fringed Violet or Common Fringe-lily. The species name is Thysanotus tuberosus, with tuberosus referring to their edible root, rather like a yam daisy I imagine. The Fringe-lily is a perennial herb, with very thin leaves and is quite hard to see on the forest floor until the flowers open. Each bloom flowers for only one day. When there are a dozen or more plants flowering in dry open forest among the grass tussocks it is a memorable sight!
Another early Summer wildflower is the Blue Pincushion, Brunonia australis. These cheerful and aptly named wildflowers are in the massive and very variable daisy family (Asteraceae). The flower head is actually a ball of loosely packed small blue flowers. Blue Pincushions often grow in a massed display, making the forest floor bright blue. The variable weather this year has meant the pincushions look a little washed out and not as vibrant as in previous years. In fact, every patch I have seen in the last week or so was not worthy of a pic!
Alternatively, one of our local Senecio species is putting on a show-stopping display this year, with large flat-topped clusters of small, bright yellow-orange blooms. It is called the Fireweed Groundsel, Senecio linearifolius. It grows in large numbers after fire or other disturbances, prompting many folks to assume it is a weed. But it is native, and an important plant for our local butterflies and moths.
Last but very much not least are the incredible Hyacinth Orchids. These orchids spend most of the year underground, absorbing vital nutrients via a symbiotic relationship with a type of fungi. Their flowers are emerging now and look like maroon or light green asparagus stalks emerging from the clay! We have two species locally: the Rosy Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium roseum which is found over much of Victoria, and the Spotted Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium pardalinum which grows only in scattered locations over western Victoria.
I haven’t seen any Spotted Hyacinths out yet, but I did see this magnificent Rosy Hyacinth Orchid a couple of days ago. There were two individuals in lovely forest off Porcupine Ridge rd, Glenluce area.
May these blossoms bring you some brightness and joy over the festive season!