When most people think of endangered species they think of something like the Wollemi Pine, tall, majestic and hidden away in a remote valley in the wilderness but in truth most of our endangered plant species are small, nondescript and in places with a fair amount of human activity, this month’s PotM fits the latter description.
Australian Toadflax (Thesium australe) is a member of the Santalaceae (Sandalwood) family and in common with the rest of the family is a root parasite gaining much of it’s nutrition from other plants, in this case parasitising native grasses such as Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis) and possibly also Snow Grass (Poa sieberiana) and Native Sorghum (Sorghum leiocladum). It is a small, wiry, non descript plant generally hiding among the grasses and undergrowth till around March when it goes a sickly yellow colour making it just that little more obvious. Toadflax gets to about 40cm tall (though is mostly prostrate), leaves pale green to yellow green, semi succulent, 1-4cm long, 0.5-1.5mm wide, with tiny white 4 petalled flowers and a fruit 2-2.5mm diameter.
I’ve found it in the Barrington Tops and along the Liverpool Range, both times in grazed native grass paddocks, it’s also found in coastal grassy headlands.
For more information visit: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10802
Illustrations from Plantnet
Images by Shane Ruming (1), Greg Steenbeeke (2,3), from: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10802