Dec 3, 2008

Franke Road development plans

In recent weeks, some concerns have been raised regarding Council plans for Franke Road. We were told by the Engineer (Northern Region) of the Toowoomba Regional Council that a 70 or 80kph road was going to go straight across the gully containing the scrub. We were also more than a little taken aback to be told by the same engineer that he "saw no reason" why we shouldn't continue our work there, even though the scrub was earmarked for future destruction.
We now find that there has been a plan in place for some time, just as we were told in 2006, to divert the road around the scrub. Land had been acquired so that adequate space is available to build a road with curves designed for traffic at 50kph." We have always understood that some clearing of eucalypts on the eastern boundary of the road reserve will be required in order to move the road as close as possible to the eastern boundary of the road reserve.
It has been a positive experience for us, communicating with a range of people and resulting in wide-ranging support. As housing development expands, this piece of remnant scrub will become a special green space amenity for the area.
In a letter from the Mayor Peter Taylor, we have been assured that the Regional Council is aware of the conservation value of this Reserve which will be protected when the adjacent road is constructed. He commended our efforts in maintaining this area and we have been invited to meet with the Director of Engineering Services, on site, to inspect preliminary engineering design drawings.
We thank the Toowoomba Regional Council, Mayor Peter Taylor [Mayor], Cr. Bill Cahill [Environment portfolio], Toowoomba Field Naturalist Club, Friends of Peacehaven, Mark Schuster from Condamine Alliance, Rachael Pignat from Toowoomba Landcare and others for their interest and support.
We would also like to thank Steve Plant, Natural Resource Management Field Officer for the Toowoomba Regional Council (Northern Region), for advising us of the potential problem. The Crows Nest Shire Council recognised the conservation value of Franke Scrub at least two decades ago, and oversaw the formation of our group early in 2006 with Steve as our point of liaison. We are indeed grateful that he has continued in this role under the new council, and that he notified us as soon as he was made aware of the possible change in the road plan.
As housing development expands, this piece of remnant scrub will become a special green space amenity for the area.

Nov 27, 2008

Christian College Helps in Franke Scrub

Like much of the district, Franke Scrub showed signs of soil movement after last week’s heavy rains.
Steve Plant has been working in the scrub with 26 students from The Christian College at Highfields, a school which has long been involved in practical work for the environment.
They have removed some of the green panic grass which has invaded the edges of the stream, and planted grasses, rushes and lilies, with the intention that they will compete with invading weedy grasses, and help to stabilise the soil.
Species chosen:

Stout Bamboo Grass Austrostipa ramossissima, a sturdy local native grass which can reach shoulder height.

Long-leafed Matrush, Lomandra longifolia, a very commonly grown native whose flowers can have a strong perfume.
flowers of L. longifolia

Many-flowered Matrush, Lomandra multiflora, a smaller plant which isn’t used in gardens much, although it would be very suitable for it.

Short-stemmed Flax Lily, Dianella pedunculata, a lily whose flowers and berries are often hidden down amongst the foliage. It has been used extensively in Rockhampton’s Kershaw Botanic Gardens, for edging shady paths.

Oct 4, 2008

Another October Working Bee!

It was decided at the last working bee that we would have another, on our traditional date - the fifth Wednesday of the month (Wednesday 29th October). All helpers are very welcome.
We start at 9.00am, break at 10.30 for morning tea, then decide individually whether to work on or go home.
PLEASE BRING: Secateurs, digging tools- from small trowels to big diggers, bag to put rubbish in, and morning tea.
CONSIDER YOUR COMFORT and safety. You might want gloves, sunscreen, insect repellant (ticks are not common, but possible), hat, kneeling gear, and chair for morning tea.

The First October Working Bee
We had a productive working bee last Wednesday, splitting ourselves into two groups. One over old ground near the leopard ash (which is splendidly ornamented with the yellow flowers of the mistlet0e Amyema lucasii, at the moment) , removing small asparagus plants. The other tackled the cats claw on the other side of the gully, making very satisfying progress in getting it down from the trees, and digging up large numbers of those pesky little tubers. We hope that there will be no flowers setting seed in the scrub this summer.
Steve and Jamie (representing the council) collected the tubers as we worked, putting them into a bucket of water. Cats claw plants are needed for the research into biological control. Some of the tubers were well hidden below roots of plants we value, and Steve and Jamie used Access and diesel on the stems leading from them. This is a very effective poison, but a dangerous one, as just a small splash could kill a plant we don’t want killed, so they took great care that tiny amounts were applied with great accuracy.
They also took the opportunity to water the new young plants of the revegetation programme.

Sep 17, 2008

Next Working Bee

A Change of Plan
We usually have our Franke’s Scrub meet on the 5th Wednesday (of every month which has a 5th Wednesday).
However, the next one, which is in October, is a problem for some of us, so we have decided to go on the 1st Wednesday instead.
So it will now be on Wednesday 1 October.
It will be the usual thing - from 9.00am (or earlier if you’d rather work in the cool and see more birds) until we break at 10.30am - then further work for those who still have time and energy left. We did some great work after morning tea last time!
This time we will need to do the usual check for large asparagus vines, but there are getting to be few of them left. The small asparagus seedlings really need attention, and has the advantage of being relatively light work, requiring small digging tools.
We could also make a start on the patch of cats claw. It’s only a small one, but we need to find where the tubers are and get rid of them.
Steve Plant will be there as usual, and prepared to deal with some of the heavier and pricklier jobs. (we found another African boxthorn lurking in a thicket last time. Hopefully it was the last.)
Don’t forget to bring gloves, and something to put your rubbish in as you work.

A Painting of our Favourite Tree

Another item you might like to put in your diaries is an art exhibition by Kathy Pollitt (who has worked with us at Franke’s Scrub) and her husband John. Called “Fresh Fields” it is at the Highfields Pioneer Village , from 6/10 to 6/1, and includes a painting of our favourite leopard ash tree - the one we sit under for morning tea.

Franke’s Scrub in September

“Spring is sprung,
The grass is riz,
I wonder where
the birdies is?”

The answer (or part of it, anyway) is that they are in Franke’s Scrub. There are some lovely nests happening. If you go down to have a look, try to make it before 9.00 or after 3.00, when the birds are more active. You’ll find it rewarding.
And while you’re there, you could take a quick walk along the top - the sort you can do in ten minutes in your good clothes - to see how spring is springing, plantwise. Here are some things you’ll see:

The yellow-flowering mistletoe (Amyema lucasii) is looking good on the leopard ash, and the “variable mistletoe” (Amyema congener) which has blood-red bases to its flowers is looking good on several plant species. Keep an eye out for Jezabel butterflies.

This tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis parviflora) is flowering massively, its sweet-scented little flowers attracting every nectar-loving insect in the district. It’s just buzzing with life (and no doubt the insects it is attracting are part of what the birdies is counting on, to feed their babies). The tuckeroo may give us a splendid display of its orange fruits after Christmas, if the quality of the flowering is any indication.

The great grandmother scrub boonaree (Alectryon diversifolius) is flowering, too, so we must keep an eye on it for a possible display of its little red rooster fruits at the same time.

The wonga vines are also blooming away. The flowers on these vines throughout our district are variable, and the Frankes Scrub ones have particularly yellow throats.

Yellowtop (Senecio pinnatifolius var pinnatifolius ) also known as (Senecio lautus subsp dissectifolius) is there too. It has been particularly good around the district this year, offering a good opportunity for gardeners to collect seed and establish this lovely plant in their gardens.
For an article about this plant, and some of the issues (there are a few) about growing it, go to

Aug 11, 2008

Something special and unusual

I had some doubts about the identity of the Parsonsia mentioned in the last posting.
The closest I could get to identifying it myself was the thought that it might be the "Lobed Silkpod", Parsonsia leichhardtii. However none of the sources I checked mentioned that this species might have the remarkably attractive, deeply furrowed corky stem of our Franke's Scrub plant.

It also had no sign of the purple-backed leaf which I believed was a characteristic of the species (though I had an idea that it did not occur on examples from all areas).
I went back to the scrub to get photographs and some fresh flower samples, and was fortunate enough to find some of last season's seed capsules still on the plant together with a few seeds, with their silky plumes. All these things help with identification.

I was delighted when friends Phil and Cheryl offered to call in at the herbarium on a trip to Brisbane this week, and deliver the specimens with the flowers still fresh and uncrushed. It created some interest there, apparently.
The botanists decided that it was indeed P. leichhardtii, but said that they had never before come across an example with corky bark on the stem, like our specimen. (the first photo is of the stem at ground level, and the second at about 2m from the ground.)
So we can feel pleased that we have something else special and unusual in our favourite patch of scrub.
[contributed by Trish]

A prowl in early August found -

We didn't have enough time at our working bee last week for a good prowl around in the scrub to see what was there. There were a few things worthy of comment, however.

Two more plants to tick off, on our original plant list - native nettles, Urtica incisa, and native spinach, Tetragonia tetragonioides, which hadn't been recently confirmed.

Two new species to add to the list.
Further poking about in the scrub turned up a second new vine for our list, the Burney Vine,
Malaisia scandens, and Variable Mistletoe, Amyema congener, on a Scrub Boonaree, Alectryon diversifolium.
This mistletoe is just coming into flower, confirming my ID with its characteristic green and red flowers. Our plants are a little unusual in that the red bases of the flowers are a very deep shade of red.

I collected a chrysalis off one of the mistletoes, expecting it to of a jezabel butterfly, (as this species normally breeds on mistletoes). Sure enough, the adult emerged a few days later and was a beautiful black Jezabel, Delias nigrina.

Other finds:

Scrub Wilga, Geijera salicifolia, is in bud, and will soon be in flower. Don't forget to crush a leaf and enjoy the fragrance as you go past.

Bead Bush, Spartothamnella juncea, thick with its little orange fruits.

Spiny Acalypha Acalypha capillipes, in flower. Not particularly showy,
but nonetheless interesting to see.

The bright blue fruits of Elaeocarpus obovatus are scattered about on the forest floor, still quite fresh.
[contributed by Trish]

Jul 31, 2008

Signs of Spring

This Parsonsia vine is a new one for our Franke Scrub plant list.

Sandalwood Santalum lanceolatum galls not fruits. As well as being a handsome shapely small tree, it has a tasty bush tucker fruit. It is a semi-parasitic plant, probably depending on the roots of the grasses (Austrostipa spp.) which grow under it for its good health.

Friends and finches at Franke’s

It was a glorious morning at Franke Road after a frosty dawn. The finches were chattering and we made good progress in the soft red earth, with its carpet of fresh green shoots following the recent wet weather. Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 29th October. We hope to see you then.

Weed warriors

After the initial foray,
one gradually becomes familiar with the enemy:
the way it looks in the canopy.
Feel its connection with the ground
and find the familiar look of its base.
Slide weapon beneath young roots.
Snip and disconnect earth to sky.
Launch a vigorous attack on a seasoned crown.
The severed head is removed and held high
before being consigned to a bag.
And on to the next conquest.

This particular crown was gained by a more clinical procedure as it had to be removed from a difficult position behind a blackthorn bush, while being careful not to damage a particularly fine specimen of a scrambling caper Capparis sarmentosa - our last act for the morning.
The ripe fruits of this Asparagus may have been the only ones which made it this year thanks to our efforts.

Jul 15, 2008

July meeting coming up

A reminder that we are meeting again in two weeks time, on Wednesday 30th July at 9 am at Franke Road, off Cawdor Drive at Highfields.

Bring tools to chip and snip weeds, a bag to accumulate rubbish in, gloves, protective clothing, smoko and a chair to sit on, camera, botanical keys, or whatever items might promote your enjoyment of a couple of hours in a nice dry vine scrub remnant on our doorstep.
Crowns of asparagus vine. As you can see they have good reserves to regenerate if not fully removed.

May 26, 2008

Friday fun

Six of us turned up last Friday afternoon for a couple of hours of weed control. We managed to locate the crowns of some of the large asparagus vines remaining in the canopy and can now feel more relaxed about our competition with them until our next scheduled meeting on Wednesday 30 July. Bird sounds were more apparent during the afternoon.

May 19, 2008

An extra effort

At our last working bee on 30 April, we noticed some asparagus vine with green fruit in the canopy so we are planning to go out on Friday afternoon, 23rd May, from 2-4pm to have another go at it before it matures. If anyone would like to join us, please bring your gloves, tools, rubbish bag, camera and smoko. We look forward to your company.

May 12, 2008

April gathering

Our fifth Wednesday in April commenced with Trish being interviewed about our activities at Franke Scrub on local ABC radio at 6.45 am. As a result we got some new people at 9 am. If this was not enough excitement, in rolled a mini-bus of Greening Australia workers but they were only there for a look, being occupied in Charles and Motee Rogers Park in Highfields.

It was very dry in the scrub, but looking quite good. We continued the remove asparagus vine and also some Cat's Claw creeper and were caught on camera by the local WIN TV and were on the news that night.

After smoko, we had a stroll through with Steve noticing these plants among many -
Caper white butterflies on the Capparis sarmentosa on the northern roadside
Plumbago zeylanica in flower on the ground at the lower end.
Oily hand lotion from the fruits of Pittosporum viscidum. The finches also love nesting in it.
Streblus sandpaper leaves. There was also a large leaf seedling down in the creek area.
Little galled fruits on the Ruby saltbush Enchylaena tomentosa
Cassinia laevis with mistletoe at upper end of the scrub.
A Beetroot tree Elattostachys xylocarpa with lovely bunches of opening capsules.
Breynia oblongifolia – in a different environment to Ravensbourne, where it is common.
Spartothamnella juncea with orange berries.

Apr 23, 2008

Our Endangered Ecosystem

The Queensland Environmental Protection Agency has classified our Regional Ecosystem 12.8.21, “low microphyll vine forest and semi-evergreen vine thicket” growing on basalt soil as an endangered ecosystem, making it one of the most threatened ecosystems in south-east Queensland
Their description of the typical vegetation is " Brachychiton rupestris, Flindersia collina, F. australis, Alectryon diversifolius, A. subdentatus, Elattostachys xylocarpa, Erythroxylum sp. (Splityard Creek L.Pedley 5360), Psydrax odorata forma buxifolia, Diospyros geminata,
Pouteria cotinifolia, Croton insularis, Bridelia exaltata and Bursaria incana. Melaleuca bracteata is often present along watercourses." They add that it may or may not contain Araucaria cunninghamii.
The list is interesting, as it describes Franke scrub pretty well, except for B. rupestris (bottle tree) A. cunninghamii (hoop pine) and F. australis (Crows Ash) which all grow nearby.
There are very few protected areas of this ecosystem : (Boat Mountain CP 1, Boat Mountain CP 2, Bunya Mountains NP, Dwyers Scrub CP, Flagstone Creek CP, Main Range NP, Nangur NP, Woroon NP). These remnants require intensive management because of invasion by weeds and fire damage on margins.

Apr 7, 2008

We meet this month

The fifth Wednesday falls on the 30th April, so please remember that we will be meeting once again at the northern side of the scrub reserve at 9 am.
Bring smoko, gloves, secateurs, chipping hoe, and a bag for rubbish.
Bring your camera, notebook, plant ID keys if you prefer to survey the area.
See you then!

Feb 29, 2008

Listed and now found

At our last gathering in January Plumbago zeylanica or Native plumbago was located.
Although it is on our plant list, we had not found it since we started our group. It is probably easier to find when it is in flower in January.

Feb 25, 2008

Leopard Ash and mistletoe

Flindersia collina October 2006
We are here on the fifth Wednesday of the month.

Amyema lucasii Lucas's Mistletoe growing on the Leopard Ash.
Photos - Trish October 2006


Siphonodon australe fruit in January 2008

Feb 19, 2008

A closer look

at eye level - click on the photo then use the back arrow on your browser to return to the blog entry.

on the ground - Myoporum montanum - Mountain Boobialla

Approaching the scrub

Tingletongue, Dinosperma
erythrococcum berries in February 2008

Franke Scrub support group

The first meeting of this group was held in June 2006 when a survey of plants was done. We checked this off against a plant list compiled by Martin Bennett.

Since then a group has met regularly with continuing support from Steve Plant and Crows Nest Shire council. Our main task has been to remove asparagus vine Asparagus plumosus which had taken over the canopy, while the council has dealt with other weeds including lantana. There has also been some rubbish removal undertaken, and some planting.