We have compiled a set of our favourite flora – plants that have been featured in the Plant of the Month segment of our regular monthly web news. Because we tend to feature flowering plants visible from the walking tracks, there is a bias to flowering, mid-storey flora – though there are a few exceptions listed. We’ve organized our favourites by month to help you readily identify something looking nice that you’ve seen in the park.
Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa)
- Sweet Bursaria almost always looks beautiful in Summer usually having a prolific display of white flowers and the plant copes well with hot spells.
- It is quite hardy and grows in variable forms (ie you won’t know what shape it will become until it grows). It is known to attract butterflies.
Hop Goodenia (Goodenia ovata)
- Hop Goodenia is a tough bright green shrub with small yellow flowers in spring and summer. This shrub copes best with the very hot weather. There are several good examples around the Furness Street bridge. It’s easy to grow – a good garden plant that responds well to regular clipping. It also offers good protection for small birds.
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare)
- The Kangaroo Apple usually looks quite festive in February with its fruit at varying stages of ripening. The plant above is in Furness Park next to the footpath close to Blackburn Road. This is a fast-growing but fairly short-lived shrub that can pioneer new ground (eg after fire) creating shelter while other plants regenerate more slowly.
- It has large, glossy, dark green leaves with clusters of violet flowers in spring. The oval fruit start out as pale green in colour and change to yellow, orange and red as they ripen in late summer. The fruit were “bush tucker” for Aboriginal people – but were only eaten when very ripe because they are thought to be poisonous at other times.
Pale Knotweed (Persicaria lapathifolia)
- Despite its name including the word “weed”, Pale Knotweed is one of those plants the more experienced know is indigenous – though is also distributed in North Africa, Asia and Europe as well.
- It is an annual or biennial herb with reddish, knobby-kneed joints and is showing off its pale pink flowers in the park in summer. Although the flower is different, the plant otherwise looks rather like Vietnamese Mint. It likes to grow along permanent watercourses such as our creek and in areas that remain wet in winter.
- A good place to see it is at the “Frog Bog” – click here for a map.
Shiny or Long-leaf Cassinia (Cassinia longifolia)
- Shiny Cassinia is an aromatic, fast-growing shrub useful for screening. Its off-white flower heads are reminiscent of cauliflower florets
Common Reed (Phragmites Australis)
- The Common Reed is widespread throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. The photo shows it growing in a silty area along the creek near Kalang Oval. It grows in wet places – especially at the edge of ponds and streams and in tidal waters. It can grow to 6 metres tall and is flowering in the park at the moment.
- It provides important habitat for birds and other native fauna. It is an important contributor to erosion control and can also assist in pollution abatement. It spreads from rhizomes which grow deeply. One of our group is experimenting with transplanting it for the protection of areas subject to erosion when the creek floods.
- Dusty Miller is a fairly dense shrub with attractive creamy floral leaves, other leaves are green and hairy, though lighter underneath. It flowers July-November but often looks particularly good earlier. The photo shows a specimen up on the NE hill of Furness Park.
Common Correa (Correa reflexa)
- The Common Correa is bird-attracting upright or spreading shrub and the indigenous variety has green bells (other forms have red bells). Being indigenous, this attractive plant grows well in the Blackburn area and is quite popular with local gardeners.
Wattles (Acacia spp.)
- Spreading Wattle (Acacia genistifolia) and the Myrtle Wattle (Acacia myrtifolia) look lovely in June. The photo shows the two together in Blacks Walk.
Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia)
- Melaleucas are known to many people as “Paperbarks”. There is only one species indigenous to the Creeklands – the Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia). The photo shows the slender “paperbark” trunks on the left and a close up of its foliage on the right.
- The plant produces inconspicuous creamy-white “brushes” in Spring.
Purple Coral-pea (Hardenbergia violacea)
Australian Dusty Miller (Spyridium parvifolium)
- Dusty Miller is a fairly dense, smallish shrub with attractive creamy floral leaves with other leaves being green and hairy, though lighter underneath. It would be a good fit for many local gardens and flowers from July-November. Our photo shows a specimen up on the hill of Furness Park – there are other good examples in the park’s boundary along Heath Street towards Blackburn Road.
Myrtle Wattle (Acacia myrtifolia)
- The Myrtle Wattle is a medium sized shrub (up to 3m x 3m) you might care to consider for your garden – it is quite dense with medium to large oval leaves and those wonderful large bright yellow flowers in winter.
Golden Wattle – Acacia pycnantha
- The Golden Wattle is the official Floral Emblem of Australia. It is a fast-growing small tree which flowers in late winter producing masses of fragrant, fluffy, golden flowers. This photo shows a sapling overlaid with a cluster from a mature tree – both in Kalang Park on the track from Pakenham Street to the Frog Bog. In this period, our noticeboard display usually features sprigs and names of many of our Wattles.
Dodder (Cassytha sp.)
- Dodder is a strange plant looking rather like a strangling, tangled, leafless, aerially suspended vine growing well above ground. An appropriate alternative common name for one variety is devil’s twine.
- In fact, it does have leaves – but they are microscopic, being reduced to minute scales on the stem (which occasionally branches). Our example shows Dodder seriously impacting a host Blackwood wattle in Furness Park. It is semi-parasitic – Dodders attach themselves to a plant and wrap themselves around it. The dodder produces haustoria (a wedge inside attachment cups) that insert themselves into the vascular system of the host and the young Dodder’s root in the soil dies off – leaving it up in the air, partly feeding off its host.
- Dodders often strangle or break their host plants. They propagate by seed after flowering, helped by birds.
- Bottom line: probably not a good choice for your garden – but Dodder is indigenous, so has a right to exist in our park.
Small-leaved Clematis (Clematis microphylla)
- This Clematis, with large starry flowers, has long twining branches that tend to climb up and over other bushes and trees. Be warned though, it can tend to smother its host climbing frame. It can do a good job of covering wire fences – a good example can be seen at the Pakenham Street bridge on the north-eastern side.
Prickly Tea-tree (Leptospermum continentale)
- Prickly Tea-tree is an erect 1-2m x 1-2m shrub with prickly dark green leaves and covered in white flowers from Spring to Summer. The above example is in Furness Park.
Snow Daisy-bush (Olearia lirata)
- The Snow Daisy-bush is usually a fairly inconspicuous plant – except when flowering, when it is covered in white daisy-like flowers – rather like a dusting of snow from a distance.
Austral Indigo (Indigofera australis)
- The Austral Indigo is a slender shrub with blue-green leaves reminiscent of some ferns and can grow to 2 metres high. It spectacularly flowers with soft purple/pink hues which contrast strongly with the yellows of the wattles. Because its foliage is sparse, we tend to plant this species in groups of three for a denser effect.
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare)
- The Kangaroo Apple is a fast-growing but fairly short-lived shrub that can pioneer new ground (eg after fire) creating shelter while other plants regenerate more slowly. The photo above shows a plant that had regenerated naturally in the land adjacent to 60 Main Street. Unfortunately, it seems to often be pulled out – we think by well-intentioned park users wrongly thinking them to be weeds (or “weed”?).
- It looks like this specimen in Furness Park when more mature:
- It has large, glossy, dark green leaves with clusters of violet flowers in spring. The oval fruits start out pale green in colour which changes to yellow, orange and red as they ripen in late summer. The fruit were “bush tucker” for Aboriginal people – but were only eaten when very ripe because they are thought to be poisonous at other times.
Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictum)
- The Chocolate Lily has long grass-like leaves with a single violet (rarely white) flower on stalks and having a chocolatey scent. The two photos above were taken in Furness Park. Though quite a spectacular flower, they are not “in your face” – so, to enthusiasts, they are a delight to find.
Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa)
- The photo shows some specimens in Kalang Park – just starting to flower. It grows in grass-like clumps headed by tall yellow, starry flowers up to 75 centimeters high. The flowering period is generally long, extending from Spring to Autumn though with a wide local variation.
Viminaria juncea (Golden Spray)
- This example of Golden Spray is in Kalang Park next to the “Community Seat” – the double bench seat on the southern side of the creek not far from Main Street.
- It is an upright shrub with long needle-like leaves and sprays of yellow pea-like flowers (inset) from October-February.
Victorian Christmas-bush (Prostanthera lasianthos)
- This example of Victorian Christmas-bush is in Furness Park on the northern side of the creek – not far from Main Street.
- It is a tall, bushy shrub with masses of scented purple spotted white flowers (inset) – usually flowering in summer – but it has often been quite early in our park.
- It requires reasonably moist conditions to thrive, so many plants in the Creeklands died in the drier years – but there is still a fair population around.
Bidgee-widgee (Acaena novae-zelandiae)
- Bidgee-widgee is a low growing and rambling perennial herb (up to 20 cm tall) which forms dense mats covering the ground – suppressing weeds and protecting creek banks.
- It has long leaves at the base of erect stems carrying dense, globular clusters of greenish cream flowers which become large spiny reddish-brown spherical burrs (about 1.0-1.5cm diameter). The latter forms the downside of this plant – the burrs readily attach to dog fur (and socks, elastic sides of boots, weeding gloves etc).
- The burrs seem to become omnipresent from November through summer – creating another very good reason to keep your dog on lead and on the paths! They seem to “explode” into dog fur particularly – creating a tedious removal task for their owners.
- Because of these issues, this is not a plant we actively plant out in the park. Nevertheless, it does regenerate easily and often grows near paths in the park because it is spread by animals and people. It also provides a good seed source for birds like Rosellas.
Yellow Box –Eucalyptus melliodora
- The Yellow Box –Eucalyptus melliodora (Latin for honey-scented) is one of our most significant canopy trees – it is a medium sized and sometimes tall eucalypt. Our Yellow Boxes flower at this time of year – much to the delight of the local fauna. They often have a yellowish tinge to their trunks and are among the best trees in the park. This example is near the Laurel Grove bridge on the southern track towards Main Street:
Dogwood or Common Cassinia (Cassinia aculeata)
- This example of Dogwood is near the Main Street entrance to Kalang Park on the south side of the creek. It is a darker green, narrow-leafed shrub with large white flower heads in summer.
Twiggy Daisy-bush (Olearia ramulosa)
- Twiggy Daisy-bush looks very pretty in December with its tiny white daisy-like flowers. It grows to an attractive medium-sized, spindly shrub with small leaves. The gloves are there for scale (not protection!) – to give you an idea of the size of the flowers.
Wallaby Grasses ((Austro)Danthonia spp or Rytidosperma spp)
- Although they don’t dominate, Wallaby Grasses are important indigenous grasses in the park and flower over summer. This author blithely assumed that they must be called “Wallaby Grass” because wallabies like to feed on them. However, here is another possible explanation – a magnification of a local Clustered Wallaby-grass “seed”(Rytidosperma racemosum = Austrodanthonia racemosa):