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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Nowra Flowering

As previously foreshadowed (see Friday 14 September) we spent the weekend on a family visit to Nowra, 20km inland and 2 and a half hours north-east of here. Just prior to that Denis of The Nature of Robertson (see under Blogs I Regularly Read) had reported "heaps" of orchids, but I must confess that that wasn't quite my experience. Perhaps his local knowledge is better than mine, or perhaps he's just a better spotter than me. Certainly around Tapitallee, on the western edge of Nowra, things were surprisingly quiet, but it's in a bit of a rainshadow and it was apparently a dry end to winter there. However near the coast in sandy soils (eg around Callala Beach) there were vast hordes of pink finger Orchids, notably Purple Heart Fingers Petalochilus (or Caladenia) hillmanii. For us in Canberra there are only two common pink fingers (P. fuscatus and carneus), both of which are also at the coast; the key distinguisher of P. hillmanii is the presence of the two big square yellow teeth at the base of the labellum.

Petalochilus hillmanii. The square yellow teeth at the base of the labellum can be seen above;
the beautiful cluster below shows the range of colours present in this - and related - species.
The Pink Fingers Petalochilus carneus is perhaps the most familiar and common orchid in south-eastern Australia, but this one was so richly coloured that I can't resist sharing it with you.
The sun orchids, Thelymitra, open, often simultaneously, on warm generally sunny days, apparently to attract native bees. Most are blue, which is unusual among orchids. We believe that the bees mistake the yellow hair tufts on the column for pollen, effecting pollination while shaking them in frustration.
Spotted Sun Orchid Thelymitra ixioides

And this is a spotless Spotted Sun Orchid. Yes, I know, sigh..

For the rest, there were many spring flowers to enjoy. I did so, and here are a few, with the hope that you do too.
Large Wedge-pea, Gompholobium grandiflorum.
Don't you love rolling that around the tongue? A serious pea this one, with the
standard (the big top petal) some 35mm across.
Velvet Mint-bush Prostanthera incana.
A close relative of garden herbs (sorry you can't smell it), this one
is limited on the south coast, though widely spread elsewhere.
Coneseeds, Conospermum ellipticum.
An atypical member of Proteaceae - waratahs, grevilleas, banksias, proteas, notros etc.
In Western Australia Conospermums flowering en masse turn whole plains hazy, hence 'smoke bushes'.
Wedding Bush Ricinocarpos pinifolius.
A popular wedding adornment, back when weddings were still fashionable (not to mention cutting wildflowers!).

OK, you've got other things to do, so time to leave it here for today - get out and enjoy your own spring if you're in the southern hemisphere!





2 comments:

Melissa said...

Hi Ian, Thanks for the photos. We're just back from a walk last week in the Blue Mountains (Megalong Valley, Splendour Rock)and we saw a lot of that large yellow Pea. I'd never seen one of those before and so thanks to your blog, I now know its name. It really is big, certainly by Australian wildflower standards. I heard about your blog on the radio and am slowly reading my way through your posts.

Ian Fraser said...

Hello Melissa, and lovely to hear from you. I am delighted that my blog has been of help with your question - and I'm so glad too that you were interested enough to wonder what it was! It's a magnificent pea, isn't it? I envy you the Blue Mountains - it seems too long since I was there. I hope you enjoy the rest of your journey through my blog.
Best, Ian.