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Tallong Midge Orchid

The Survivors
by Greg Stone

Fire in the Bush
by Greg Stone

More Road Kill
by Phil Mosies

Injured Native Wildlife
Emergency Management

Goldrush Grog
by Phil Mosies

Spring Purples and Pinks
by Greg Stone

Road Kill Recipes
by Phil Mosies

Penrose General Store

The Spotted Gums
by Greg Stone

Winter Fires
in Tallong

In The Natural Interest

Spring Purples and Pinks
by Greg Stone

Flag Iris At this time of year it's difficult not to notice the many shades of purple and pink in the bush and along roadsides, and so this month we will identify some of the most common of these wildflowers seen around the district.

Presently creating a 'mist' of pale purple are Kunzea capitata (Pink Kunzea) and Kunzea parvifolia (Small-leaved Kunzea). Named after Gustav Kunze (a German botanist), these shrubs are in the Myrtaceae family and are therefore related to Eucalypts, Tea Trees, Paper-barks and Bottlebrushes.

The two Kunzeas found in this district are both about 1.5m in height, have grey-green foliage and pink to purple 'pom-pom' flowers at the ends of the branches. These flowers do not have much in the way of petals, but consist of many stamens (stalks) with yellows anthers (the bits that hold the pollen) on the ends.

How can you tell the difference between these two Kunzeas? A simple way is to check the leaves - Kunzea capitata has leaves with three veins, whereas the smaller leaves of Kunzea parvifolia have only one vein. Of course, you'll have to stop the car to check this!

There are four different species of Patersonia (Native Iris or Purple-flag) in this district, but also tell them apart once you know what to look for. These small plants all have in common purple to blue flowers with three large petals and three yellow stamens. Immediately below each flower is a spathe - a slightly bulbous, darker green to brown structure up to about 3cm in length. The flowers usually appear on sunny days and are quite conspicuous, but are unfortunately also short-lived.

What's the difference?
Find a Native Iris and examine it. If there are no pale, silky hairs on the stems, leaves and spathes, then you have found Patersonia fragilis (Short Purple Flag). If the leaves of your Native Iris all emerge from the base of a single flower stem rather than from a clump at ground level, then you have Patersonia glabrata (Leafy Purple Flag). If the plant has leaves forming a tuft or clump, there are hairs on the edges of the leaves, the flower stems and the spathe, then it is either Patersonia sericea var. longifolia (Dwarf Purple Flag) or Patersonia sericea var. sericea Silky Purple-flag). If all this seems to be a bit complex, take some time to walk around, examine some Flag Irises and you should find that it's easier than it appears!

The common Hardenbergia violacea (Purple Twining-pea) has just about finished flowering, but in late Winter and early Spring is very conspicuous in open areas as it creeps around fences, rocks and stumps and spreads out on roadsides. As the botanical and common names suggest, this wiry, twining plant has a deep violet-coloured 'pea' flower with a small yellow centre.

Another wildflower demanding attention at the moment is Comesperma ericinum (Pink Matchheads or Heath Milkwort). This small erect shrub has been given its common name on account of the resemblance of the unopened purple to pink flower buds to match-heads. Alternating along the stems are narrow leaves, while the clumps of flowers are located at the ends. Look closely at the open flowers and you will notice two cupped 'wings' that look like petals. These are actually sepals or the outer parts of the flower. The true petals are quite small and are wrapped around the yellow stamens, which may be seen poking their anthers above the petals.

There a several Black-eyed Susans around, but one of the more common is Tetratheca thymifolia. All are small, shrubby plants with pink to purple flowers with four petals, eight stamens and a contrasting dark centre - from which the common name has been derived.

Tetratheca thymifolia is different from almost all other Tetrathecas in this area in that its leaves are elliptic (broadest at the middle and narrowing at both ends) and arranged in whorls of 3 to 5 (emerging at the same level of a stem to form a ring). The stems and leaves are usually hairy.

There are of course many yellow wildflowers out at present - but that's another story!

Greg Stone
Woodlands Revegetation

C/- P. O. Wingello
Wingello N.S.W. 2579

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