|The Western Australia Botanic Garden in Kings Park, Perth, is a marvelous|
place to begin learning about the local flora.
|Chamaeleucium is a shrub in the family Myrtaceae,|
which also includes Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and the
The unique southern hemisphere family, Proteaceae, which is so spectacular in South Africa, is in Australia also, with marvelous genera like Banksia and Grevillea. The legume family (Fabaceae) has proliferated here, providing nitrogn to the mineral-poor soils. Australia, particularly western Australia, is also home to the greatest diversity of sundews (genus Drosera) to be found anywhere. These carnivorous plants also bring nitrogen into the food chain. And then there are the ground orchids, which in North America are rare and often endangered. In Australia, one sees them nearly everywhere.
|Xanthorrhoea australis resembles the Yuccas of|
North America, but is unrelated to them.
There are some unique families here as well - the Xanthorrheaceae, with growth forms that resemble our yuccas, and the endemic pitcher plant, Cephalotus, which is in a family of its own.
I arrived at the city of Perth, capital of the state of Western Australia. As in the rest of Australia, the human population is concentrated in a few cities and towns, mostly near the coast, leaving the huge interior very sparsely inhabited. Much of that interior is desert, but the coastal areas and the mountains have ample rain, mostly in the winter. This supports varied vegetation similar to what we would find in California or the Mediterranean region. There are Eucalyptus forests as well as areas dominated by evergreen shrubs.
|In a display of spring wildflowers at the Kings Park Gardens|
in Perth, members of the family Proteaceae are featured.
in South Africa, there are many people who take great interest and when I arrived in October, there was a wildflower show going on at the Garden, as well as planted displays of the local flora.
|Banksia blechnifolia has an underground stem system and strongly resembles|
some cycads, like Florida's Zamia floridana.
From Perth, I struck out toward the southwestern corner of the country, staying in the town of Albany. From there I explored the countryside, including the fascinating D'Entrecasteaux National Park. That will be the subject of my next couple of postings.
(genus Drosera) take on the form of upright,
leafy shoots. Some are even branched in a shrub-like
configuration, or climb like vines.
|Anigosanthos flavidus has brilliant orange flowers.|
|Darwinia meeboldii is a striking member|
of the Myrtaceae endemic to Australia.
|Caladenia flava is a striking ground orchid, one of|
hundreds in Australia/
|The brightly colored flowers of Eucalyptus consist mostly of|
|Boronia megastigma (Rutaceae) has cheery, bell-like|
|Banksia hookeriana sports a massive head of tiny flowers.|
|Hovea elliptica is a member of the legume|
family. Its roots harbor nitrogen-fixing
|Diuris brumalis is another spectacular ground orchid.|
|Xanthosia rotundifolia is a member of the Apiaceae, |
with dove-like clusters of bracts below each umbel of flowers.
|Banksia praemorsa is another spectacular member of the Proteaceae. |
Its head is made up of hundreds of tiny yellow flowers.
|Banksia ashbyi brightens the bush with|
brilliant yellow flower heads.
|Eremophila maculata is a shrub in the|
|Chorizema ilicifolium is another of the many|
species of legumes in Australia.
|Dillwynia laxiflora flowers have the same|
color pattern as the Chorizema, though it is
only distantly related. It suggests that the
two species share the same set of pollinators.
|This fuzzy-leaved Solanum is a relative of the tomato and the potato.|