Thursday, February 11, 2016

Australia 4. An excursion in New South Wales

Eastern New South Wales is a land of gentle, rolling mountains and coastal
plains covered in green forest.
Hakea multilineata is a spectacular member of the Proteaceae.
After several weeks in Western Australia, I flew to Canberra, Australia's capital, to visit my old friend from Papua New Guinea, Heinar Streimann.  Heinar at this time was the resident expert on bryophytes at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.  We decided to "go bush" for old times sake, and the surrounding state of New South Wales has plenty to offer.   The eastern part of New South Wales prevents quite a contrast to Western Australia, and indeed to most of this rather arid continent.  The dominant color is green, as lush forests dominate from the coastal areas up to the mountains.  Wildflowers are to be found in great diversity, but not in the dominating displays we see in the drier west.  Here, some of the most interesting plants have no flowers at all and live in the shade of the large eucalyptus trees that dominate nearly all of Australia's forests.Wildflowers are most evident in open habitats in the lower elevations.  Orchids, legumes, and members of the myrtle and protea families are prominent here as elsewhere.  I was only able to scratch the surface here, but this brief sample will hopefully inspire you to visit for yourself.  I don't have tools at my disposal to properly identify all the flowers displayed here, so any of you who know these plants, please don't hesitate to send me identifications or corrections.
This coastal heath is dominated by Allocasuarina

Allocasuarina nana has jointed green stems and  rudimentary leaves.  The flowers are 
tiny, and hidden in reddish cone-like clusters.
A ground orchid in the genus Glossodia.
 Cakile edentula (Brassicaceae) struggles to keep above shifting beach sand.

Boronia megastigma (Rutaceae) is a common shrub in the lowlands of New South Wales.

Isopogon anemonifolius is another member of the widespread southern hemisphere
family Proteaceae.  The bloom is a compound head of many small flowers.

The tubular red flowers of Epacris longiflora (Ericaceae) are similar to some of the heaths
in South Africa, and  are probably also pollinated by nectar-feeding birds.
Epacris breviflora has shorter, white flowers.

Dracophyllum secundum is a third member of the
Ericaceae blooming during my visit.
The bright blue flowers of Dampiera diversifolia (Goodeniaceae) fill a fertile space between rocks.
The legume, Kennedia rubicunda, creeps along the
Forests in the Snowy Mountains are dominated by tall Eucalyptus trees, with an
understory of tree ferns.

Despite their tropical appearance, the tree ferns of
the snowy mountains are cold-tolerant. These have
been coated with snow in a late season storm. 
The taller tree ferns are in the genus Cyathea, and the
shorter ones in the genus Dicksonia.
Tmesipteris is a relative of the common fern relative, Psilotum.
Tree ferns frame an inviting waterfall in the Snowy Mountains.

Many tree ferns in this area have been poached, their trunks hacked off for the horticultural tree fern fiber trade, or for rooting and sale as specimen plants.
Tetratheca shiressii

Dichopogon strictus or fimbriatum (syn.: Arthropodium fimbriatum) The
picture is not clear enough
for a positive ID of this interesting
monocot in the Asparagaceae.