Plant of the Month

Plant of the Month – Grains

Sigh, I was wr….. Not exactly right…. You know how you’ve been telling people stuff for almost 30 years and no one’s ever corrected you and finally you get around to trying it and…… Grains have been quite a common food item across many cultures, high in carbohydrates... read more

Plant of the Month: Lotions and Potions!

I generally keep away from the medicinal uses of native plants as there’s a lot of cultural significance and sometimes ceremony attached to the use and preparation of them, but there are a few I refer to as “first aid plants” which I find are quite useful to have a... read more

Plant of the Month: Arr, me scurvy dogs!

Ok, so it’s a little early for International Talk Like a Pirate Day but one issue for pirates, other seafarers and more than a few landlubbers was the disease of scurvy brought about by lack of Vitamin C in the diet, this was a big issue in the Royal Navy till young Jimmy Cook had lemons, limes and sauerkraut as mandatory dietary items for his underlings as they bobbed about the world’s oceans (“no dessert for you till you’ve sucked on a lemon”). 

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Plant of the Month: Looking for some hot stuff…

If you’re a late Boomer or early Gen Xer you’ve probably now got this earworm going (Millenials and Gen Y or Z should watch as well to see what cool music really is), this month we’re looking at some native herbs and spices (some of which have been used in our current... read more

Plant of the Month: Would you like a cuppa?

When you’re out of tea (or coffee) you’ll pretty much use anything and that must have led to some interesting experimentation by the first colonists, I’m guessing many were tried with some very interesting results before settling on some more or less acceptable “tea” making species.

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Plant of the Month: Ouch, Spiky!

One of my favourite groups of plants are the Epacrids (recently lumped in with the Ericaceae), small shrubby plants with small spiky leaves, parallel venation and tubular flowers with five petals, these can be roughly divided into dry fruit and fleshy fruit with the fleshy fruited ones usually being pretty tasty.

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Plant of the Month: In the Grip of the Grape

You may not know it but Australia has quite a few native members of the grape family (Vitaceae). We’re all familiar with Vitis vinifera (and other table and wine grapes) but less well known is that Australia is home to around 30 members of the Vitaceae family, occurring in all mainland states except South Australia (though I think they make up for it with production of Vitis vinifera).

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Plant of the Month: How to shoot plants!

I often get photos sent to me with requests to identify the plant in the photo, sometimes it’s a challenge, not just from the rarity and obscurity of the plant but from the quality of the photo. A lot of times they’re out of focus, grainy, showing multiple plants,... read more

Plant of the Month: “You can eat it, but it tastes like…”

Following on from our recent Bush Foods day at Blandford I’m taking a break from trying to identify Eucalypts and looking at some of our local bushfoods. Within the Hunter there would be well over 200* species of native plant which are or have been recorded as edible,... read more

Plant of the Month: Lomandra longifolia

Member of Wollombi Landcare, Andrea Lang has written a short and entertaining article about how to gather and grow this creek-side helper, so please enjoy the article and get your Lomandra on! Lomandra is the backbone of many a revegetation project because of its... read more

Plant of the Month: Ironbarks

It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town, He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down. He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop, Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber’s shop. “‘Ere! shave... read more

Plant of the Month: Scribbly Gums

“The Gumnut Strike”. May Gibbs. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. “They were surprised to see an Editor writing all about them in his newspaper.  Gumnut Editors generally write backwards because they say it takes longer to read it that way, and people think they are getting... read more

Plant of the Month: Who’s a Sap?

The next group of Eucalypt like trees we’re looking at are the bloodwoods. The bloodwoods derive their common name from the large amount of sap they produce, previously listed in the Eucalyptus they were split off into the Corymbia genus in the 1990’s. Apart from the... read more

Plant of the Month – Mallees

Plant of the Month: “I don’t mind at all if you call me a Mallee Boy.” The famous song by John Williamson refers to the Mallee Region of Western Victoria an area famous for it’s stunted multi-stemmed Eucalypts known as Mallees. The Mallee growth form is a fairly... read more

Plant of the Month: Not Rocky, the Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa)

Spring is just around the corner, you may not believe me but it is, and that means the wildflowers will be out soon. One of the more spectacular ones in this area (the Upper Hunter) is the Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa) a spectacular yellow lily to around 70 cm in... read more

Plant of the Month: The Tale of White Beard

Common in heathlands and sandstone areas the Bearded Heaths (Leucopogon spp) look fairly unremarkable till coming into flower and fruit. The Bearded Heath gets it’s botanical Genus Leucopogon from the  Greek “Leuco-” meaning white and “pogon” meaning beard, for once... read more

Plant of the Month: Big Bad Banksia Men

Big Bad Banksia Men Australian author May Gibbs cast the “Big Bad Banksia Men” as the villains of many of her stories, looking at the cones of the Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata) it is quite easy to imagine them as heads of some creature (though I think casting them... read more

Plant of the Month: The Call of the Lotus

Odysseus removing his men from the company of the lotus-eaters (source: Wikipedia) They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring... read more

Plant of the Month: Eucalyptus nortonii

Life would be so much easier….. Y’know, life would be so much easier if plants could read books, they’d know important things like where they should grow, when they should flower and what they should look like. It would save me a lot of confusion. I’ll often find... read more

Ludwig woz ’ere!

F.W.L (Ludwig) Leichhardt 1813-1848(?) Over the Xmas break I found myself with a free day and went for a ride to Bylong, not having been into the Widden Valley for a while I dropped in for a look. I could see a greyish leaved tree at the edges of the valley but as... read more

Plant of the Month: Learning new ‘trix

Here’s an interesting one for you (well, they’re all interesting to me at least), I was out in the field a few weeks back doing a follow up on the Fairy Bells work I’ve been doing the past couple of years (see: insert link). One of our monitoring sites is in the... read more

Plant of the Month: Staying Muddy

Last month we were in the mud looking at mangroves, this month we’ll go slightly closer shoreward and take a look at what grows in the hypersaline environment of the Salt Marshes. Salt Marshes occur around the high tide zone, often in shallow depressions which fill on... read more

Plant of the Month: Mangroves – Getting Muddy

There’s a concept in evolutionary biology called convergent evolution, it’s where distantly related organisms evolve the same or similar strategies for dealing with the environment in which they find themselves. One example many will be aware of are the Thylacines... read more

Plant of the Month: Please don’t pull this one out

Another couple of plants which commonly get mistaken for weeds (and pulled out) is  Flannel Leaf (Astrotricha floccosa). With a home range between Newcastle and Sydney it’s found in Dry Sclerophyll Forest on sandstone, unfortunately the leaves can have a strong... read more

Plant of the Month – Of Serpents and Spinifex

Botanically the Hunter Region compares well with other regions of the world for diversity. Given our geographic location with the New England Fold Belt to the North and East and the largely sedimentary Sydney Basin to the South and West (with the Hunter-Mooki Thrust... read more

Plant of the Month: Not a Weed Either!

Following on from last month’s look at a couple of “weedy looking” natives is another native which looks like a weed and unfortunately has a weedy look alike. Bleeding Heart or Homolanthus populifolius (sometimes listed as Omolanthus populifolius) is a rainforest... read more

Plants of the Month: That’s gotta be a weed?

Plant(s) of the Month: That’s gotta be a weed, doesn’t it? Well….. You know how it goes, you go wandering through the bush and see a plant which just doesn’t fit in, which just by the general look of it you just know it’s gotta be a weed. So you reach down and…. NO!... read more

Plant of the Month: Blackbutt

Plant of the Month: Blackbutt (Burrooma – Worimi) Eucalyptus pilularis A common tree in the Lower Hunter the Blackbutt is a magnificent tree to 70 metres tall with a natural range along the coast from around Hervey Bay in Queensland to the Victorian border. A... read more

Plant of the Month: Ribbon Gum

Twenty third of March is National Eucalypt Day so with that in mind it’s time for another gum PotM. This month’s PotM is the Ribbon Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), there’s a couple of them growing near the bridge at Bunnan on the Scone-Merriwa Road, I’ve looked at these... read more

Plant of the Month: What’s in a name? Hard Quandong

(Elaeocarpus obovatus) Also known as Blueberry Ash, Whitewood, Grey Carabeen, Freckled Oliveberry and Grey Carrobeen, despite the plethora of names it is not related to the other Quandongs (Santalum spp.), Ashes (Mountain Ash, Red Ash, Claret Ash, Himalayan Ash) or... read more

Plant of the Month: Melaleuca styphelioides, Prickly leaved Paperbark

Flowering now at a Hunter location near you! The Prickly leaved paperbark produces masses of creamy pale yellow flowers attracting birds, bees and butterflies.  The prickly foliage provides nesting sites for small native birds.   It is a medium tree to a maximum... read more

Plant of the month: Antarctic Beech, Nothofagus moorei

Every now and then I get the opportunity to wander through the cool, dark, damp Antarctic Beech forests of the high country up in the Barrington Tops. The Antarctic Beech rainforests are a Gondawanan relic showing little similarity to the surrounding Snow Gum and... read more

Plant of the Month: Mountain Grevillea (Grevillea johnsonii)

Grevillea johnsonii is another Hunter endemic Grevillea species, despite it’s common and botanical name I have generally found them on the footslopes rather than in the mountains.

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Plant of the Month: Johnson’s Grevillea (Grevillea johnsonii).

Apart from my Landcare work I get a few other projects in from time to time, at the end of last week I was out in the Goulburn River National Park trying to track down a lost population of Fairy Bells (Homoranthus darwinioides)*, we didn’t manage to find that... read more

Plant of the Month: Magenta Lilly Pilly

(Syzygium paniculatum). Katuba (Kattang), Daguba (Cadigal). March is a great time for fans of bushfood, Kurrajongs, Sandpaper Fig and the Magenta Lilly Pilly all ripening. This year was a good season for the Lilly Pilly here in the Upper Hunter and while I didn’t get... read more

Plant of the Month: Greenhood Orchid (Pterostylis nutans)

During winter and spring, these low green orchids, endemic to Eastern Australia, emerge from the ground in great numbers in moist, protected forest environments. The flowers “nod” or lean forwards strongly and occur singly on a stem arising from a rosette... read more

Plant of the Month: Forest Red Gum

Plant of the Month: Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) Munumba (Worimi) Buringoa (D’harawal) A magnificent tall tree to 50 metres, the Forest Red Gum is found along the east coast of Australia from Gippsland in Victoria to Papua New Guinea. In the Hunter... read more

Plant of the month: Tall Oat Grass (Themeda avenacea)

From only four known populations in the Merriwa area in the early 2000’s Tall Oat Grass has been steadily expanding it’s range from Bunnan to Scone and is now growing on Halcomb Hill near Aberdeen. A grazing sensitive species destocking during recent droughts has... read more

Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata)

Spotted gum is one of the best known of all of the eucalypts on the East Coast of Australia because of its stately, tall growth habit and distinctive trunk which is blotched with patches of old bark contrasting with the smooth, cream bark beneath. It is provides... read more

Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells (Blandfordia grandiflora) are reasonably common in coastal heathlands with most flowering around Christmas time up to about 4 years after fires or other clearing.

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Standing under the Mistletoe

An interesting group of plants are the Mistletoes, parasitising their host trees for water and nutrients they are an extremely important part of the ecosystem.

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Blue Grass, Music to my ears.

One of the earliest summer grasses to pop up, and one of the quickest to respond to a bit of rain is one of my favourites, Blue Grass or Dichanthium sericium.

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Weed or native?

Going by the rather unglamorous common name of Scurvy Weed this little forest groundcover is quite common in moist areas and, unfortunately, is often mistaken for a weed species (the common name doesn’t help). Commelina cyanea, or Scurvy Weed is a common understory... read more

Swamp Mahogany

Original illustration of Eucalyptus robusta by James Sowerby (from Wikepedia) Eucalyptus robusta A firm favourite of the Koala, the Swamp Mahogany loves wet feet as it’s common name indicates. Common in coastal swamps and wet forests the Swamp Mahogany has a natural... read more

Sticky Hops

Dodonaea viscosa Rather inaccurately described in “A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners” (see this month’s book review) as a “rather dull genus of evergreen shrubs” the Dodonaea genus was named after Rembert Dodoens a Flemish physician and botanist, author of the... read more

Blackthorn/ sweet bursaria

Blackthorn is not especially popular in cultivation because of its prickly habit. Bursaria will often colonise cleared land and can be mistaken for an invasive weed.

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Gumnuts of the Upper Hunter

Bark types and gumnuts (or “fruit”) are a handy way of determining which group a Eucalypt belongs to.

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Eucalypt Bark Types

Just as their fruits (gumnuts) can help us figure out which Eucalypt is which so can their bark, these are some commonly seen in the Upper Hunter.  

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Forest / Mountain Oak

The Forest or Mountain Oak can be identified by it’s brown corky bark, round fruit (cones) and four or five teeth on the article needles.

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River Red Gum

An Australian icon and most widespread of the Eucalypts, the River Red Gum is found near waterways over much of inland Australia and found (naturally) as far east as Hinton in the Hunter Valley.

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Feelin’ Seedy at Martindale

On Sunday 25th November around two dozen people got together at Martindale to talk about seedy stuff. Organised as part of Hunter Councils Nine Valleys Project, the day was to discuss and demonstrate the use of direct seeding in revegetation works.

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Tricks to propagating wattles and members of the pea family (Fabaceae)

Wattle seeds require pre-treatment before germination will commence. 

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