Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bush-walking in the Tinderry Nature Reserve

Diuris sulphurea, or similar, one of several terrestrial orchids seen today.
 I'm currently staying with my friends Roger Farrow and Christine Kendrick at their home near Queanbeyan, New South Wales. They are enthusiastic members of the Australian Native Plants Society, and know the best sites for native plants over a wide radius. Today Roger took me on a foray into the trackless Tinderry Nature Reserve, an extensive tract of natural 'bush' on the slopes of a mountain, not very far away. While natural and remarkably free of invasive aliens, it is not undisturbed, as the section we visited had been burnt three years ago by a wide-ranging bush fire. The result, as seen today, was to destroy most of the trees and lower storeys of plants - temporarily. The Australian flora is fire-adapted, however, and now,assisted by two wet years, the vegetation is making its recovery. The Eucalyptus (of which 16 species are recorded for the reserve) have varying strategies for recovery: some regenerate from seed, others from basal shoots, while some are able to sprout epicormic shoots from the trunk. The result now is a woodland of mostly completely dead standing trees, with a mass of new growth low down: only a few have living branches in their crowns.

Among the Eucalyptus are a mass of other regenerating woody plants, including wattles (especially Acacia obliqua), several olearias, Leptospermum, Grevillea and more, and from the tangle of dead stems it was easy to see how they would soon form an almost impenetrable thicket. But their suppression means that other plants have a chance, and we saw a great diversity of smaller species in flower. The highlight was finding the rare and seldom-seen Dampiera fusca in full flower, en masse, a really beautiful sight, but several ground orchids, other monocots, numerous legumes and many more (most of which I'd never heard of), made it a splendid day of field botany.

Regeneration of Eucalyptus following a fire three years ago.

Forget David Nash! Charred eucalypt trunks are beautifully sculptural.

A particularly strongly-coloured flush of new growth from an unidentified Eucalyptus: they regenerate freely but the characteristics of bark and fruit can't be seen to give an accurate identification.

A seedling Acacia obliqua among lush Polytrichum.

A sun orchid, possibly Thelymitra simulata

The star plant of the day: Dampiera fusca

Massed flowering of Dampiera fusca is extremely rare: this is three years after a fire and follows a wet winter.

My host and guide for today, Roger Farrow, photographing Dampiera. As he said we hit the jackpot, with very few people ever having seen this species, never mind sheets of it.

Viola betonicifolia in the litter below the eucalypts.

Daviesia ulicifolia was abundant

Hakea microcarpa in a swamp, with needle-sharp leaves.

Utricularia dichotoma was a nice plant to find in the swamp.

Back at the ranch... a rather friendly King Parrot.


  1. Thanks for sharing. What a wonderful time you're having!

  2. Lovely pictures! And what an adventure, I was surprised that you found moss (sorry, I'm not sure of the correct english word) in australia, and what almost seems like alpine herbs (sorry again if my english isn't correct).

  3. Interesting to see Hakea microcarpa and its' associates. It grows perfectly here! Maybe some more of these plants could?

  4. Hope that parrot kept off the beer!
    I liked that moss Bettina as well. I think we could use it more for garden ground cover-but unfortunately most gardeners till their soil!
    I once heard a story about a public garden whose borders were thought to be untidy because they were covered with moss. They were advised to put a fancy latin label naming the moss. It worked, everyone now thought it looked nice.

  5. Dear John.
    Native plants of New zealand and Australia, are gorgeous. The Dampiera Fusca is beautiful, and amazingly in its growth, coming back after a bush fire! A fantastic survivor.
    Thanks for sharing these, to me, rare plants.
    Best regards, Iris.
    To Roger Brook; an interesting and suggestive story about moss, almost like fashion! Give it the ´right´ label ;o)

  6. John,

    I've only just realised that I can post comments here. You live and learn!

    Lovely to see some shots around Canberra... that Dampiera is glorious. So interesting to see the Utricularia dichotoma, which I didn't realise we had here locally. Not a carnivore that I grow, but I must fix that now that I know for sure it will survive here OK.

    It was really nice to meet you while you were here in Australia, even if you did probably start to worry that I was stalking you. LOL


    Paul T.
    (The Groupie!!)


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