Hooded or Musky?

Among the many orchids in flower in the Reserve this spring are the Hooded Caladenia Caladenia Cuculla and the Musky Caladenia Caladenia gracilis. They are easily confused.

As Geraldine Harris pointed out in the recent Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club Newsletter, there are several ways to distinguish them. As you can see in the photos below the Musky Caladenia’s labellum is coloured only at the tip whereas the Hooded Caladenia has rows of dark coloured calli on the entire length of the labellum. The Musky Caladenia also has a strong musky scent. Finally, the column on the Musky Caladenia is not as hooded by the dorsal sepal as is the case with the Hooded Caladenia.



Top photo: Musky Caladenia, bottom photo: Hooded Caladenia

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Looking at leaves

Eucalyptus leaves decompose slowly, especially in dry weather. During the decaying process they change colour and are often munched on by nymphs, grubs and caterpillars. Here are four leaves I found recently with interesting markings and colours.


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Golden evening

Yesterday the sky was overcast but shortly before sunset the bush was lit up by an intense golden light. I’ve seen many sunsets here over the years but nothing quite as brilliant as this.



The photo below is not smoke from one of our recent bush fires. It is the same bush on a foggy morning 6 months ago.


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A miraculous transformation

One of the main reasons the bush looks so different after rain in summer is the greening of moss. Prickly moss Polytrichum juniperinum is a species that exhibits remarkable change. Below is a dry patch on the track on 30 November.


Polytrichum juniperinum, 30 November 2012

The photos below are of the same moss the next day. There had been about 5 mm of rain overnight.



Polytrichum juniperinum, 1 December 2012

Some other examples of brilliant colour in a variety of moss are shown below. They were also taken on 1 December.




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Wheel Cactus and Quaking-grass

Fortunately the Reserve doesn’t have many weeds. I did notice one Wheel Cactus Opuntia robusta recently. This weed is prevalent a few kilometres east in Nuggetty and Barringhup but I haven’t noticed it around here until now.

Wheel Cactus

Quaking-grass Briza maxima is a weed of European origin. It differs in appearance from most local weeds and is often mistaken for an indigenous plant. As in the case of another out of control weed, Gazania, it is sometimes sold in nurseries. Quaking-grass is reasonable widespread in the Reserve.

Large Quaker-grass, 15 December 2011

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After rain

Lack of rain and warm weather has made the ground cover dry out and look fairly drab over the past few weeks. Rain on Saturday night changed all this. Early on Sunday morning the stems of the flowering Slender Dodder-laurel Cassytha glabella were a brilliant lime -green colour and all the mosses and lichens had revived.

Slender Dodder-laurel with moss (Leptodontium paradoxum), 11 December 2011

Slender Dodder-laurel, 11 December 2011

Coral lichen with moss (Leptodontium paradoxum), 11 December 2011

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Tracking the flower heads

The Grey Everlasting Ozothamnus obcordatus shrub is pretty inconspicuous most of the year. Green pearl-like buds appear at the end of July and by October this hardy shrub is in flower all over the the Reserve. The flower heads have recently turned brown and many are beginning to go to seed.

Buds, flowers and seed heads on Grey Everlastings, July to December 2011

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