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]