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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Albino Wax-lip Orchid

I happened upon this albino Wax-lip Orchid Glossodia major with two of its more common mauve relatives.

The albino orchid featured was a delight to behold on a sunny Walmer day.

Photo by Mitchell Parker, 3 October 2011

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The strange world of Greenhoods

The least common Greenhood in the Reserve is the Blunt Greenhood Pterosylis Curta. 

While photographing one recently I inadvertently tapped its hood and noticed that the protruding dark tongue (labellum) had disappeared. After looking at some research into greenhoods I discovered that my touch had mimicked the action of an insect, usually a gnat, that enters the flower. The movement triggers the withdrawal of the labellum so that the gnat becomes trapped against the winged column. While trapped, pollen grains become attached to the insect and it only escapes once the labellum resets. More information on Blunt Greenhoods behaviour is available in this detailed study. Also the FOBIF website has a post on Bearded Greenhoods which employ a slightly different action to encourage pollination.

Blunt Greenhood before and after tapping. 7 September 2011

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