Saturday, March 31, 2012

Parsonsia straminea

A very vigorous climber that occurs around here is called Monkey rope or Common Silkpod. Binomial name is Parsonsia straminea .  It is starting to come into flower at present

It covers and can smother trees and fences, it scrambles along the ground and is one very tough native plant that can "take over". Thus we have mixed feelings about it but tolerate it as it is native to our area and would have been a component of the original vegetation. It is a host plant to the Common Crow butterfly (maybe other butterflies as well) and provides nectar when in flower to bees - they were buzzing around the flowers above.

Botanically it is part of the dogbane family and according to wiki the genus is named after an English Dr- James Parsons by another Dr - Robert Brown - who accompanied Matthew Flinders  as the botanist on his exploration of Australia - here is the wiki link about Robert Brown :

Another site :

states that the beans and roots are edible  but the only scientific paper that could be located mentioned pyrrolidizine alkaloids in a related species - P laevigata

as such I wouldn't be recommending it without further published studies on it.
Also being a member of the dogbane family -  this contains plants with some pretty toxic members such as oleander and has provided us with drugs for heart failure, hypertension and cancer treatments makes me even more wary of it as an edible plant.

The name Monkey rope is inappropriate in my opinion (no monkeys in Australia)  and the name Common Silkpod is ok as it does indeed produce a silk like plume  of hairs attached to seeds to help  distribute the seeds by wind.  There is an Aboriginal name for a related species but I couldn't find the Aboriginal name for this one.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tryons Hawk Moth

A couple of Alocasia plants (not sure exactly which one it is) have been decimated by a caterpillar or two -  they have been difficult to spot but tonight using a torch I found this very fat one:

It is  the caterpillar of a hawk moth - binomial  name is : Theretra tryoni
There are typical eye spots one end and a horn like extension on the other mouth end.  Size of this one was 7cm although when rolled over it did lengthen more than that. As it's probably near to becoming a pupa, it has been placed into a container (with some food) for keeping  until it becomes an adult moth. I have always been amazed by metamorphosis - how the tissues of the caterpillar are basically completely reorganised to become an adult moth or butterfly. Some time ago I read up on it and it is as a way of  reducing food competition between juveniles and adults and is understandable as "suspended" development.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shepherd's Crook Orchid

Something that gives me delight is finding new native plants that "arrive" by themselves - spread by birds or other wildlife.

One plant that I suspect arrived in mulch is a native orchid called the Shepherd's Crook or Pink Nodding Orchid  -  Geodorum densiflorum.

The name Geodorum is derived from the Greek ge - earth and doron -gift
It is a terrestrial orchid which is not evident in winter and has a drooping flower stalk in Jan-Feb. The plants here are past flowering but the photo does show a seed pod. Pollination is by native bees according to the web:

That site also has a nice photo of the flowers.

We started off with one plant, but in that area there are now 3 clumps and there is another clump, underneath a very sad looking citrus tree,  in a completely separate area.

It seems as if it is common around Brisbane but is a threatened plant in NSW

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fruit Fly Trap

I recently became aware of another fruit fly trap that seems to have been developed in Spain for the Mediterranean Fruit fly  but is also effective against the Qld Fruit Fly.

Last season I was busy and didn't get around to netting the Cherry Guava and Feijoa and as a consequence we basically got no fruit ( it was all stung).

Whilst netting works, it requires a couple of things  - keeping the tree within the bounds of the frame (pruning each season) and netting after the fruit has set. Placing netting over a medium sized tree is a bit challenging - I use a leaf rake to  move it over the high part of the frame.

So I'm going to try traps again - Wild May as an attractant for the male fly and
the Cera trap for both:

I purchased six of them from Green Harvest and have hung them on individual fruit trees
- the cherry guava, tropical nectarine, tropical peach , kumquat,  beside 1 feijoa and on the mandarin.   I've also reset the Wild May traps (x3) that I haven't used for a couple of years.  Even though we are moving into the cooler months  fruit fly seem to stay active around here and even sting our citrus.

The Cera web site is OK - there is a simulation where the effect of not having enough traps is made obvious so I hope six traps will do the job for us but I may have to purchase a few more later.

It will take awhile to assess this strategy compared to netting -  the other advantage of netting is protection from possums and rats that this will not address however.

Thanks to Robyn at the garden club for bringing this type of trap to my attention

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bell Vine

Common name :  Bell Vine
Binomial Name : Ipomoea plebeia

This is another native vine that has also only started to appear recently. It is twinning and scrambling along the ground in a couple of places on the property. Here it is growing in an open manner without swamping other nearby plants however a Google search indicates it can become a "pest" in cotton growing areas.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tape Vine

Another vine that has been around for awhile scrambling amongst some crucifix orchids and under a large gum tree, giving dappled shade, is a Tape vine or  Stephania japonica

Whilst I haven't spotted any caterpillars it is reported to be a host plant for a couple of moths:

Barbed Wire Grass

Another native grass that seems to be doing well is :

Barbed Wire Grass  or    Cymbopogon refractus

The name is quite appropriate as you can see from the structure of the seed stalk. However it is not prickly and doesn't seem to catch onto clothing noticeably.
The paper bags around some stalks  are to collect ripe seed for further propagation.

The original 3 plants were purchased from Indigiscapes at Capalaba. On the first Saturday of the month they have native plants of the Redlands area for sale at very reasonable prices.

Also here is a very colourful fungus that was evident in the lawn this morning - we have been having regular rain and there are lots of fungi popping up.

 No ID at this stage

Friday, March 16, 2012

Twining Glycine

Apart from the very invasive introduced glycine ( Neonotonia wightii) that we have been constantly trying to eradicate from our property  there is another  native glycine called
Glycine clandestina  or  common name of Twining glycine.  I recently spotted some  of it down the front of the property.  It is a dainty scrambling climber.  There are no flowers at present but it is of the pea family.

Native grasses

The past 6 months or so I have been making a big effort to rid the property of the myriad of introduced broadleaf weed species -  cobblers pegs,  thickhead  and the like and encouraging the native grasses to take over.  In previous years I have simply slashed at the end of summer but with planting a lot more Lomandra, Dianella and clumping native grasses, plus the  growth of trees and shrubs, this is no longer practical.

There has been a dramatic regrowth of two native grass species :

Graceful Grass   or  Ottochloa gracillima

The picture doesn't do it justice - it forms quite a thick low growing mat but it will climb and cover logs and fallen branches however

The other is  Creeping Basket Grass   or  Oplismenius aemulius 

It has larger leaf form than the  Ottochloa and also has a flat mat like growth habit

I've also been collecting seeds from Kangaroo and other clumping grasses and have scattered them around and have set up some trays also for germinating them.

Hopefully if we can cover most of the property with native grasses the weeds will become less prominent.

ref :  Mangroves to Mountains (Revised Edition) by  Glen Leiper,  Jan Glazebrook, Denis Cox and Kerry Rathie   -  produced by SGAP 

Incidentally -  this is an excellent and very comprehensive field guide to Natives in SE Qld - I use it frequently and highly recommend it.   Copies can be purchased directly from the authors - please email me for details if interested.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bearded Dragon

The other day spotted this lizard sunning itself near my shed. By the time I went to get the camera it had moved to a nearby tree ( a brushbox or Lophostemon confertus) and was most aggressive when I approached too close:

Common Name : Bearded  Dragon  Binomial name : Pogona barbata

The other larger lizard we have is the Blue Tongue and there seem to be a few varieties of smaller skinks and lizards here as well that I have yet to properly identify

Tailed Emperor Butterfly

A few days ago Anne noticed a chrysalis  (or pupa) on an agapanthus plant underneath a frangipani.  We snipped a section of leaf that held it and placed it into  container.  Today it hatched into a very spectacular butterfly :

It is a Tailed Emperor or Polyura pyrrhus

ref :

The above site has, as usual, a good description and details.

I'm not sure what it had been feeding on, but it is more than welcome in our yard anytime. I haven't noticed this species around before.