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Parramatta and Hills District Group

Group News 2024


Narrawang Wetland

Nine members and one visitor met at the Pierre de Coubertin dog park at Newington to walk along part of the Louise Sauvage Pathway at Sydney Olympic Park. Nearby apartments in Newington were built as the Olympic Village. The gardens have grown up around them to create a very pleasant residential environment. For the first part of the walk, we walked beside some of these apartments on our left and

The Narawang wetlands on our right. Walking conditions were ideal, with plenty of shade and seats at intervals for those who needed a rest.
The Narawang Wetlands are a recreation of previous wetlands which were destroyed when the site along Haslam’s Creek was used as a tip for commercial, domestic and industrial waste. The earlier wetland had supported a regionally important population of the Green and Golden Bell Frog and Latham’s Snipe, a migratory shorebird.

As far as I know, our Group has not considered exploring a wetland before. Wetlands are now considered environmental icons for their ecosystem services such as maintenance of water quality, habitat for diverse biota such as juvenile fish, regulation of water flow and protection of shorelines from erosion. Wetlands have their own international treaty, The Ramsar Convention, which promotes their protection. As most of us were not familiar with wetland species we had a challenging afternoon identifying some of the plants which we encountered. Many thanks to Daniel who knew more than the rest of us and enabled us to identify quite a few.

Admiring a majestic Turpentine

Once the path passed under Holker Drive, we walked along the edge of Newington Nature Reserve which is a high quality remnant of the critically endangered Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest (STIF). The Forest surrounds the various armaments laboratories where weapons were tested. The buildings are separated from each other to reduce the amount of damage which would occur if there was an accidental explosion. The reserve is protected by a high cyclone fence but it is possible to view quite a lot from the other side of the fence. Some of the vegetation has also spread outside the fence. In this part of the walk we were much more confident in identifying the plants which we saw as they are also to be seen in remnant STIF in The Hills. However, there were some new plants such as the Port Jackson Pine, Callitris rhomboidei and many plants of the Native Holly, Podolobium ilicifolium.

At this time of the year there were no flowers to be seen. However, the lush growth of the sedges, ferns and grasses of the wetlands was a very pleasant scene.

Group News 2023


Twelve members met at the Robert St entrance to the Vineyard Creek Reserve which follows the Creek from Wesley St Telopea to Kissing Point Road Dundas With the adjacent Oatlands Golf Course and Elizabeth Macarthur Park it forms a significant wildlife corridor.

Vineyard Creek is named for the vineyard which was planted at the confluence of the creek and Parramatta River by Phillip Schaeffer in 1791. Schaeffer was a German national who had fought as a mercenary in the British Army He was sent out to help supervise the farming enterprise in the Sydney Settlement. However, his English was not up to the task so Governor Phillip gave him a grant of land which he farmed very successfully.

The bushland reserve, like many reserves in Sydney, has survived because of the rough terrain which was too steep for farming and later on for suburban development. One of our members, Jeff O’Neill has been active on the Vineyard Creek Catchment Reserve Committee for 50 years which has advocated for the preservation of the reserve, conducted bush care and planted indigenous species. We were fortunate that Jeff was able to come on this walk. Another one of our members, Jim Nash, grew up near Vineyard Creek and had many memories to share of the area.

The walk follows the creek at times along the bank where the challenge of keeping the weeds at bay is continuous but there were still ferns to enjoy. At other times the track is on higher ground through towering Blackbutts and Turpentines with a variety of understorey plants. Our route also included a detour to the dam which was formed to provide the water supply for the Oatlands Golf Club. There is a stand of Hibiscus heterophyllus growing on the dam wall. On the edge of this track there was a sandstone outcrop where we found several sandstone species to add to Tony’s list.

We are the Parramatta and Hills Group of the Australian Plants Society but this is the first time we have walked in the Parramatta area for a long while. After this very enjoyable walk I am sure we will be scheduling more in this part of Sydney.

Thanks for Jeff for helping to plan the walk, to Jim Nash for his memories and to Tony for preparing the prompt list of plants to look out for. We saw 56 species including a beautiful moss, Dawsonia polytrichoides.


Photos: Left - Moorinda jasminoides , Right - Eustrephus latifolius

Walk at Paulls Road South Maroota – 26 August 2023

Jennifer Farrer

What a wonderful afternoon we had! Seven of us met for a picnic lunch at the South Maroota Community Reserve and a further six members met us to start the walk.

This may have been the shortest walk our Group has ever done in terms of distance walked but certainly not in terms of species encountered. In two hours and 400 metres, we recorded sighting 54 different species. Almost from the very start of the walk, we encountered plants that were not familiar to us and which required a lot of consulting of various resources to make definite identifications. The jury is still out on the exact species of some of the plants we saw.

Paulls Road is a well-known flora diversity hotspot and our experience has certainly confirmed this. As mentioned in the publicity for the walk several threatened species grow there. On Saturday we all saw several plants of Grevillea parviflora var supplicans growing beside the path. This low-growing spreading plant with small yellowish flowers has only been recorded growing at Berrilee, Glenorie, Arcadia and South Maroota. Another threatened species is Micromyrtus blakelyi. Several of us saw and photographed this plant but it was only after Ricki Nash got home and keyed out the specimen, she had taken that she realised what it was. See James Indsto’s photo below.

As well as the new species, we saw plenty of familiar flowers including many Grevillea buxifolia and Gompholobium grandiflorum and some early flowering orchids such Thelmitra ixioides and Caladenia catenata. A complete list of the species sighted will be on our website.
If you decide to go out to South Maroota and check out this amazing walk for yourself, walk along the fire trail at the end of Paulls Road and after a short distance take the right-hand trail.
Many thanks to James Indsto for these wonderful photos:

 Acacia brownii  Boronia floribunda  Boronia ledifolia

 Bossiaea obcordata

 Daviesia corymbosa  Dillwynia elegans
Gompholobium grandiflorum Grevillea buxifolia  Grevillea parviflora

 Grevillea speciosa  Hybanthus vernonii  Leucopogon lanceolatus

 Leucopogon microphyllus Micromyrtus blakelyi Brachyloma daphnoides

 Viminaria juncea ? Lomandra multiflora Thelymitra ixioides

Weekend away up north

Pip Gibian

On Saturday 27th May, eight of us congregated at the country property, ‘Parragilga’, of Phil Baird, one of our members. It is in an area called The Branch, north of both the Hunter and Karuah Rivers, and east of Buckets Way, the road to Gloucester. The property once belonged to a logging family, but for a very long time has been untouched and allowed to regenerate. It is woodland with tall trees, grasses and a variable collection of not very high under-shrubs. There is remarkably little weed. Phil has had a botanist flora survey done for the council, which shows over 200 different species.

Initially, we had a small walk around the level of the house, the highest part of the property. The most common tree species are Eucalyptus fibrosa, an ironbark, and Corymbia maculata, a spotted gum. Acacia terminalis was flowering, a pale-yellow form. Near the house, Phil had planted Grevillea guthrieana, an endangered plant only found in this area and around Buladelah.

After lunch, we had a longer walk down the slashed fire trails to the main attraction at this time of year. Quite a large area supports a great many Banksia spinulosa plants, flowering furiously. They show a collection of different colours in their styles. Some are bright gold, or various shades of red, and some are very dark, almost black. They are beautiful. Because of a recent severe storm over Newcastle, the fire trails became increasingly wet, so we didn’t progress to the strip of rainforest flora along the Branch River, one of Phil’s boundaries. Light was fading fast by the time we left. Many thanks to Phil, who is a great host.

Plants seen by the group included:

 Acacia falcata
Acacia floribunda
Acacia longifolia
Acacia myrtifolia
Acacia terminalis
Allocasuarina torulosa
Banksia oblongifolia
Banksia spinulosa
Billiardiera scandens
Bursaria spinosa
Corymbia gummifera
Eucalyptus maculata
 Daviesia ulicifolia
Epacris pulchella
Eucalyptus fibrosa
Glochidion ferdinandi
Glycine clandestina
Glycine tabacina
Hardenbergia violacea
Isolepis inundata
Kennedia rubicunda
Leucopogon juniperinus
Lomandra longifolia
Lomandra obliqua
Notelaea longifolia
Ozothamnus diosmifolius
Parsonsia straminea
Persoonia levis
Persoonia linifolia
Pratia purpurascence
Pultenea villosa

Zieria smithii

Five of us stayed in the area overnight and met at 10 am at the Hunter Wetlands Centre in Shortland, an outer suburb of Newcastle. If you are going there, be aware that there is also a Hunter Wetlands National Park, a different place altogether. The Shortland one has a collection of large ponds, swamps and marshes, populated by a great variety of Australian water birds: ducks, swans, egrets, geese, moorhens and many more. A network of paths winds around these with some bird hides and other interest points. There is an enclosure featuring a freckled duck, pretty with dark plumage and small yellow spots. The signage explains that this is a very primitive species of duck.

The Newcastle District APS Group is heavily involved with the Wetlands, and has planted
native plants around the Centre building. They also sell plants produced by their very active
propagation group. The Centre is a two-story building, giving a view over the wetlands. It
contains lots of explanatory maps and leaflets, a shop and a very good café, with a large
verandah area, as well as education facilities on the lower level. On walking around the
wetlands there are areas of rainforest. There is also a very good wild food display area,
showing lots of labelled plants, and signs explaining the uses of many of them. A visit here is
different from our usual activities, and is very interesting and worthwhile.

Thanks to Pip, Ricki and Jennifer for these photos from the weekend away.


View from the Cafeteria,
Hunter Wetlands Centre.

 Ron, Barbara and Joan,
on the way back.


This was James Indsto's talk to our April meeting. It was based on research which he undertook for his Master of Science degree.

The phenomenon of species imitating other species for their own advantage was first observed in the middle of the 19th century,  when the English naturalist Henry Bates observed non toxic butterflies imitating the colours and wing  patterns of toxic butterflies. African orchids have been observed being pollinated by butterflies even though they do not  offer the butterfly any reward.

In NSW  Diuris orchids have been observed growing in close proximity to yellow pea flowers. When the nectar guides on the pea flowers are observed under ultra violet light, these visual cues are much closer to the patterns on Diuris orchids. Bees can see in this part of the light spectrum and thus encouraged to visit the orchid even though there will be no reward for them when they do.

Diuris aequalis mimics Gompholobium flowers. Diuris maculata mimics the “eggs and bacon" flowers of Daviesia and Bossiaea flowers. Even the pink flowers of Diuris punctata mimic the yellow flowers of Dillwynia glaberrima sufficiently enough to ensure visitation by species of native bees.

James collected pollen from  bees and found pollen on their pollen receptors and bodies from both orchids and pea flowers. He also studied the pollination rate of the orchids. At 20% it was sufficient to ensure continuation of the species.
James mapped the growing pattern of the orchids amongst the pea species they were imitating and found that orchids growing within 10 metres of the pea plant were the most likely to be pollinated

These findings will give us another activity for our spring  bushwalks.  Next time we see a Diuris orchid we should look to see which pea flowers it is imitating.


Saturday 25 March

The weather forecast was not very encouraging but when the BOM site said 25% chance of one millimetre at 2 pm nine members were prepared to risk it.

The route we took was part of the tour which Jennifer and Pip had developed for the post conference tour last year. So we met at the entrance to Mc Corns Trail and wandered a few metres in to look at Persoonia nutans, one of several endangered plants growing in the reserve. While we were there we also saw several plants of Styphelia laeta already flowering, which was quite a surprise.

We then drove to the start of the Hakea Trail. This is very aptly named as it has wall to wall Hakea sericea on both sides of the track. It wasn’t flowering of course but right on the track were large patches of Goodenia paniculata which made a very attractive display. Very soon we started to see large numbers of Darwinia tenuifolia, another of the endangered plants in the reserve. It was also at about this time that we found that we had scored the 1 in 4 chance of rain. It was amazing how quickly the puddles started to form, so it was a wet progress to our next endangered plant, Pultenaea parviflora.

Beyond this was the wall of the dam built to provide water for the cattle which grazed here before meeting their demise at the Riverstone Meatworks. The reserve was used for grazing cattle for more than 100 years, then in 2013 it was burnt in a wild fire so it is amazing how well the vegetation has recovered. On earlier visits we have found the area below the dam wall to be a flora hotspot but the rain was a deterrent to closer botanising here.

We returned to our cars via the Dip Trail through Shale/ Gravel Transition Forest. There were quite a few Melaleuca nodosa here as well as one of the largest Exocarpus cupressiformis any of us had ever seen.

Windsor Downs is a very rewarding place to visit. The trails are almost flat and there are plants to see which are unique to this part of Greater Sydney.


Saturday 25th February 2023

This the title of Peter Ridgeway’s book telling the story of his walk across the Cumberland Plain in 2019. We were fortunate to have Peter as our guest speaker at the February meeting.

The Cumberland Plain is an area of 2750 square kilometres surrounded by the sandstone curtain of the Hornsby and Woronora Plateaux and the Blue Mountains. It was the homeland of the Darug, Gundungurra, Dharawal and Darkinjung peoples. After European settlement it became the food bowl of the colony.

It is a unique ecosystem whose status is now dire. It is home to unique flora and fauna, all of which now have a threatened status. 7% of the vegetation remains but only 2% is conserved and one per cent is public open space. Remarkably Peter, was able to trace a route through the Cumberland Plain through the remaining rural bushland with only some walking through suburbia. This was a route of 178km which he completed in 8 days, camping out at night.

•    Scheyville National Park
This area is the remains of the Pitt Town Common created in the 18th century to provide common land for grazing and foraging for local settlers. It is on the edge of the Cumberland Plain and actually had a sandstone quarry. It has had many uses over the years including hosting several labour immigration schemes and officer training for the military. It was declared a National Park in 1996. The vegetation is mainly regrowth because of its former use as farmland. However, there is great diversity ranging from Grassy Box Woodland to Rainforest. Longneck Lagoon is a special place. You can find the orchid Pterostylis saxicola in the park, which is only found on the borders of the Cumberland Plain.

•    Londonderry – Castlereagh
This area is defined by large amounts of sediments from an ancestral Hawkesbury River which are comprised of a mixture of sandstone and shale. As this area had no agricultural value it has been conserved. The largest patch of intact bushland is the 448 hectares of Castlereagh Nature Reserve. Also in this area is the unique Agnes Banks Nature Reserve which is 50 hectares of pure sand over the original river deposit.
All the endemic species of the Cumberland Plain are found in Castlereagh NR including Dillwynia tenuifolia, Grevillea juniperina, Allcasuarina glareicola, Pultenaea parviflora, Micromyrtus minutifolia and Persoonia nutans.

•    Shane’s Park
This 558 hectares site will become Yeraldea NP. It has vegetation similar to Londonderry Forest but has never been strip-mined or logged. The land was purchased in the late 1960’s to install very low frequency antennae for air navigation. This passive use of the land has conserved the vegetation. This includes one of the only intact Chain-o- Ponds meadows to remain in the Cumberland Plain. This unique system is a series of freshwater ponds from which the water flows under the surface through the alluvium sand belt above the clay. Most have now been destroyed by erosion.

•    Western Sydney Parklands
This large parkland was compulsorily acquired from farmland in 1972 to become a green belt. There has been a revegetation progam and there are also patches of old growth forest. It has a very large network of walking and cycle trails, many of them concrete. One of the special flora growing there is Pimelea spicata which has a very limited range. It only occurs here and in the Illawarra. Another feature of this plant is it longevity. Plants have been recorded living more than 50 years

•    Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute – Cowpasture Plains
The EMAI area includes intact rainforest. Peter showed us photos of some very large trees which he thinks are a natural occurring hybrid of Eucalyptus botryoides and Eucalyptus saligna. There is also another intact Chain-o-Ponds Meadow. He added to this photo emus, kangaroos and sulphur crested cockatoos, the animals which frequented the Chain-o-Ponds as described by Caley. Sulphur crested cockatoos have only taken up residence in the Sydney suburbs in the last 50 years. Probably because of the abundance of food.

Peter concluded his talk by telling us that there is no such thing as The Cumberland Plain! It is name created by botanists in the 1980’s to describe the various vegetation communities found there. Like the word Brush which in the 19th century described rainforest, the word Plain now also has a different meaning. A Plain was an area without trees that was not necessarily flat. And it is not even in the County of Cumberland!


On Saturday 28 January we revived an old tradition in our Group of meeting in January to share photos and stories of our gardens and places we had visited.

As we are lucky to have such a lovely covered outdoor area at Gumnut Hall, we utilised it to meet for a BBQ/picnic lunch before the meeting. It was lovely to see so many members come along for this social event. Although the weather was hot and humid, a gentle breeze and the shade kept us cool enough.

At the meeting we viewed the Powerpoint presentation that Alan Wright had prepared for our 50th celebration of photos of past activities. He has now added photos of the 50th celebration. This will now go into our archives box as a valuable record for the future. Many thanks to Alan for putting this together. We are so lucky to have someone of his talents contributing to our program.

Jennifer Farrer, Lesley Waite, Jim and Ricki Nash and Pip Gibian showed photos from their gardens and bushwalks.

We then adjourned for a sumptuous afternoon tea and more informal sharing and socialising.

Jennifer Farrer

Group News 2022

Return to Quarry Road Dural - 22nd October 2022

Despite forecasts of storms, seven of us met at the end of Quarry Road and walked for two hours in fine weather. We had been told by Jim and Ricki Nash that there were terrestrial orchids to be seen there and we were not disappointed. We saw several patches of Calochilus robertsonii. The Purple Beard Orchid.

Quarry Road has been a favourite place for us to walk for many years. It is quite flat and the diversity of plants is truly amazing. The continual rain this year has meant that the flowering season has been longer and later than usual. So on this Saturday afternoon in late October we saw many plants still flowering. For example there was a lone Woollsia pungens, looking a little tired but still flowering after probably six months. Some Grevillea speciosa still had flowers as well.

Overall we saw and identified 64 species. Highlights were masses of Dampiera stricta, more Conospermum longifolium than I have ever seen before and extensive patches of Boronia pinnata and floribunda.

                       Boronia floribunda           Conospermum longifolium

The smaller group enabled us to really examine and identify some smaller inconspicuous plants which are often overlooked such as Micrantheum ericoides, Stackhousia viminea and Gonocarpus teucrioides .

After much discussion it was decided that this plant was Poranthera ericifolia.

Jennifer Farrer

Jones Road Fire Trail walk Kenthurst - Saturday 23 July

Photo: Tony Maxwell

For our second bushwalk this year we were a little apprehensive, as showers were forecast. We were all kitted out and ready for the usual bad weather, but, guess what? – it was fine!

This fire trail is on a ridgetop of Hawkesbury Sandstone, and the flora is very diverse. One of the post-conference tours from Kiama is calling here in September. Wendy and Sue from the North Shore Group, experts on this type of flora and who will be tour guides, were with us today.

One of the upsides of this walk was that we were able to identify the beautiful Boronia that is widespread here. Previously we thought it to be Boronia ledifolia, but thanks to Wendy and Sue, concluded that it is B. rubiginosa.

Another positive was that we updated the plant list for this area, which will be included in the tour booklet. Thanks to Tony for the printed copies he handed out.

Something I noticed on this walk was that a few plants were flowering later than usual. This is the case too in the bush at my place just down the road. Leucopogon fletcheri, Boronia floribunda, Styphelia triflora, Calytrix tetragona, amongst others, were yet to flower. Perhaps this is because of all the rain we’ve had this year?

Here are a few of the stand-out plants on this walk:



Top: Boronia rubiginosa, pink and white forms. We found the white one on a walk here last year.

Bottom: Wollsia pungens, and Phebalium squamulosum.

All photos Lesley Waite.


Our April walk was planned to be at Vineyard Creek, Telopea but the recent heavy rains had made the track conditions very muddy so it was decided that a walk along a ridge might be a drier option.

There are not too many ridge walks in The Hills as the ridges were originally cleared for farms and orchards in the 19th century and then gradually subdivided for suburbs in the 20th century. However, there remains an excellent uncleared sandstone ridge at the end of Porters Road Kenthurst. This area was also slated for subdivision but community pressure ensured that it remains to be enjoyed by many of us today.

Twelve of us set forth on an afternoon which remained delightfully sunny even though the forecast had been for showers. There have been several fires in this area including 1975, 1992 and 2002. After the 1992 fire, members of the Parramatta Hills Group pegged out several sections which were periodically monitored for regrowth. These records are still held by our group. Unfortunately, the pegs were burnt in the 2002 fire so it is not possible to identify the exact sites.

Apart from one section of the walk where the dominant vegetation is casuarina woodland with little or no under storey the flora diversity seems to have survived the fires.

Tony Maxwell had prepared lists of species likely to be found in the area and the keen eyes of members enabled us to identify 106 species in two and a half hours. Credit needs to be given to Chris Cheetham whose wonderful knowledge and keen eyes identified some of the smaller species amongst grasses on the road margin which everyone else had walked past. This included a largish patch of Pimelea curviflora and an early flowering Tetratheca ericifolia which for a short while was thought to be the much rarer Tetratheca glandulosa. We did see one rare plant though. There were two plants of Persoonia hirsuta.

       Pultenaea tuberculata               Persoonia hirsuta      Melichrus procumbens

Jennifer Farrer

Talk on Shady Gardens by Angie Michaelis 26th March 2022

Angie Michaelis was the speaker at our meeting on 26 March. As well as being an experienced horticulturist she also has a garden with only one small sunny patch.

Photo: Angie's backyard

Inspiration from Nature

When thinking about designing a garden in a shady area it is always good to think about plants which grow in a shady environment. Rainforests are a good source of inspiration. In a rainforest there are many different light levels and layers of plants. There is the canopy above, plants which are growing on tree trunks such as epiphytes and ferns, climbers twining around trunks and the plants growing on the forest floor. The predominant colour is green but there are many different shades of green from green/brown to green/white with an occasional flash of colour. There are also many different leaf shapes and textures. 

Understanding Your Site

What is causing your shade? Is it a solid wall or tree canopy? Is it shady all day/year? Often there will be sun at some times of the day/year. The shade maybe dense or filtered through the leaves of your canopy. Is the problem really shade or lack of water? Often plants struggle more from root competition than from the shade of the canopy.

Possible solutions

  •  Removing trees entirely is not a good idea as gardens feel best with at least one tree to provide shape to the garden.
  •  Broad leaved plants and ferns have evolved to get enough light in a low light environment.
  •  Prune shrubs or canopy trees from below to let in more light
  •  Use tree trunks to display epiphytes
  •  Areas with summer sun and winter shade are the most difficult to manage. The best solution is to plant something which is happy in the sun but not to expect too many flowers because of the shady periods.
  •  Look at ways to increase the water to areas where there is competition from tree roots. Often in these situations it is better to use pots or raised beds.

Plant Selection

 Up High

Use trunks to grow Birds Nest and Stag ferns, orchids, climbing ferns, climbers such as Hibbertia dentata, Pandorea jasminoides or pandorana, Clematis, Eustrephus latifolius,

Understorey trees such as Backhousia myrtifolia, Dodonaea viscosa, Tree ferns

Structural plants such as Cordylines and Gingers

Baskets for ferns or Viola hederacea

The Middle Storey

Shrub Layer Indigofera australis, Correa bauerlenii, or reflexa, Graptophyllum ilicifolium or spinigerum, Hymenosporum “ Gold Nugget”, Rhododendron lochae, Croweas, Boronias, Bursaria, Philotheca, Syzygium, Pittosporum revolutum, Prostanthera scutellaroides, Zieria, Austromyrtus dulcis, Pultenaea blakeyi, Grevillea shiressii,

Structural Plants Cycads

Ground Covers

Hibbertia, Dichondra repens, Violas, Doodia aspera, Adiantum hispidulum and other ferns, Zieria prostrata, Podocarpus spinulosa, Goodenias, Ajuga, Brunoniella, Dianellas, even mosses.

Change in the Garden

Change is inevitable in the garden. Look for different solutions to problems.
Reinvent your garden. Do you need to keep trying to grow plants under a large tree. Maybe the solution is paving, a seat , a sculpture or a pool.

Talk by Prof. Michelle Leishman 26th February 2022

    At our February meeting, the speaker was Prof. Michelle Leishman from the School of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. As well as being a botanist, Michelle has extensive knowledge of climate change, particularly its effects on plants and the urban environment. She started her talk by reiterating some of the irrefutable facts about climate change, illustrated with graphs. We know that the average temperature of our city is rising, and that average rainfall is falling, particularly in our far western suburbs. What can we do now to ensure our suburbs remain liveable despite these facts? It is now proven that on hot Summer days, leafy green suburbs remain cooler than those with little vegetation and open parklands. Aerial photos with heat-sensitive cameras clearly demonstrate this. To counteract climate change we need to increase areas of vegetation between our buildings and expand current green spaces. As housing blocks become smaller and houses larger, there is little space left for trees or any living plants.  Planning laws should change to reflect the need for increased green space in the future. Tests show that trees reduce temperatures more than green grass, by providing shade. As well as lowering summer temperatures, trees help combat pollution, reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, provide habitat for birds and other animals and have beneficial physical and psychological effects on the human inhabitants. This latter fact was clearly demonstrated during COVID lockdowns.

    These factors lead to difficult decisions about what to plant to increase urban vegetation. Damage to old established trees has already been seen during heat waves, with leaf burn and even plant death. What we previously planted as street and park trees may no longer cope with increasing climate change. The need for evidence-based decisions has triggered the WHICH PLANT WHERE project. For about five years, Michelle has been heavily involved with a group of researchers, studying and testing a large number of native plant species, looking for resistance to high temperatures and low water availability. The results have lead to the development of the WHICH PLANT WHERE website, which is to be launched in March or April this year. The team has incorporated test results with facts about the occurrence, natural habitat, rainfall and usual growing conditions in the wild of a very large number of native plants. The collated information is being used to recommend which species to plant in a certain area. Some further specifics were added, including a description, size and shape, whether the plant has poisonous fruit, or is likely to drop large limbs.

    In the WHICH PLANT WHERE website, you can enter a postcode and be given a large list of appropriate plants. Your search can be narrowed down by adding further requirements, eg asking for a shrub or tree of a specific size, and choosing whether it is for a home garden or a public park. The listed plants include further information and a photo. The results have been further divided into how hardy a species is likely to be under future conditions. This is done with a “traffic light” coding, green for good, orange for not as good and red for not likely to do well. This coding has three time zones, namely now, in a few years, and in many years. Some recommended species will be designated “green” now, but may in the long-term be in the “red” category, as climate change worsens. The website covers the whole of Australia, suburban and rural, including all postcodes. Of course, conditions can vary in a suburb and also in a home garden, so the website does have limitations. However, this will be the only reference available for information which considers the effects of climate change on the growth of a native plant.

                                                                                                             Pip Gibian

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