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Our members love sharing their stories, insights and experiences with others. In June 2020 we transitioned all our stories to a new platform to make them easier to view and search. 

For the latest stories and many of the previous ones on the new platform, click here

To see the stories archive (prior to June 2020), click here 

To see all the latest stories, click here.  To see the archive, click here

  • 20 Aug 2019 6:47 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Barbara Melville from Central Coast Group recently asked our Facebook for suggestions for walks to see spring wildflowers. Here are some of the responses. APS Groups also have walks in their local area, so check the Group activities and newsletters.

    Sydney

    Royal National Park - Coast Track in particular. Walk in to RNP from Bundeena ferry or from Loftus, Engadine, Heathcote or Waterfall stations. Drive to access coastal tracks from Wattamolla or Garie.

    Heathcote National Park

    Lucas Heights - there's usually some great winter and spring flowers. Rock orchids, wattle, Gymea lily and various peas go crazy, plus it's a lovely easy walk. Also close to Heathcote National Park.

    Muogamarra Nature Reserve. Only open for a few weekends each spring. Turn off Pacific Highway near Berowra (if heading north) or south of Brooklyn (if heading south).

    Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden at St Ives (bushland and planted garden)

    Stony Range Botanic Garden at Dee Why (planted garden)

    Sylvan Grove at Picnic Point (planted garden)

    Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve at Kareela (planted garden)


    North of Sydney

    Bombi Moor Track near MacMasters Beach, Central Coast

    On the edge of Bouddi National Park, access several tracks along the Coastal Walk from Beachview Esplanade at MacMasters Beach. Sandy trail, no steps.

    Brisbane Water National Park between Pearl Beach and Patonga usually has a fabulous display of waratahs.

    West of Sydney

    Bells Line of Road. Last year in early November, the waratahs were spectacular. And the other flowers were beautiful too. Cathy said "Maybe others could talk to specific places to stop as we just parked on the side of the road to take photos. They were the most spectacular waratah photos ever".

    South of Sydney

    Barren Grounds Nature Reserve, on the top of Jamberoo Mountain inland from Kiama. Great for heathland and birds as well.

    South Pacific Headland, Dowling Street, South Ulladulla

  • 20 Aug 2019 6:28 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Brian Roach of Westleigh Native Plants is having another open garden and plant sale at his home on Saturday and Sunday 12–13 October. Free entry.

    It’s a bit later this spring because Brian wants to especially showcase an absolute ripper – Homoranthus prolixus (Golditops) which will be in full flower around that time.  It was introduced from the wild around 15 years ago after being found growing around Inverell on the granite belt.  It’s as tough as old boots, handles extreme dryness and cold (as expected, coming from up on the northern tablelands) and is stunning in flower.  The only thing it demands is winter sun for good flowering. 

    Homoranthus prolixus in flower

    Tumblers are $4.50 each (or 5 for $20) and 6”/140mm pots are generally $8 each.  There will also be some grafted plants available which will cost a little more.  

    There’ll also be a limited supply of Brian's dwarf Christmas Bush Johanna’s Christmas in 6”/140mm pots at $15 each and a good supply of tumblers at $7 each.

    Address and time

    47 Eucalyptus Drive, Westleigh (northern Sydney)

    9.30 am to 3.30 pm, 12–13 October 2019

    Free entry

    More information

    0418 115 630

    bcroach@optusnet.com.au


  • 12 Aug 2019 10:11 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Here's a selection of spring photos from Lloyd Hedges of the garden maintained by Menai Group at the Illawong Fire Station garden in southern Sydney.


    Isopogon cuneatus flower

    Isopogon cuneatus shrub

    Isopogon cuneatus, from WA and grafted onto Isopogon anemonifolius rootstock


    Banksia praemorsaBanksia praemorsa, from WA



    Eremophila 'Kalbarri Carpet', a tough groundcover


    Eremophila red form

    Eremophila form, red flowers


    Eucalyptus preissiana

    Eucalyptus preissiana


    Hakea purpurea

    Hakea purpurea – yes, it does look like a Grevillea flower, but note the woody fruit

  • 11 Aug 2019 8:55 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Alan Fairley explains why Wattle Day is 1 September. This article first appeared in Doryanthes, the newsletter of the Oatley Flora and Fauna Society, and is reproduced with Alan's permission.

    Wattle Day in NSW

    Anyone who went to primary school in NSW in the 1950s or 1960s will remember Wattle Day. It was held on 1 August. Students were encouraged to research wattles or native plants, wear sprigs of wattle, play wattle games, write poems or stories with wattle as a theme or were even taken on short walks through local bushland in search of different wattles. And 1 August was an obvious day for such activity, as the majority of wattles in the Sydney area are in flower around that date. So, why is Wattle Day now celebrated on 1 September when most of Sydney's wattles have finished flowering? 

    Before Federation and up to World War 1

    Recognition of the many wattle species (750+) as a distinctive feature of the Australian flora and an inspiring focus for spring festivals was evident in the Australian colonies well before Federation in 1901. The earliest record is from Tasmania in 1838 where it became customary to wear a sprig of the wattle (Acacia mearnsii)  to celebrate the Hobart Regatta and the European discovery of the island.  As the 19th century progressed, interest grew in finding a flower which could be associated with Australia and reflect the growing patriotism as the states progressed towards Federation. This led in 1889 to the short-lived Wattle Blossom League formed by the Adelaide branch of the Australian Natives' Association. This was followed in 1899 by the Wattle Club in Victoria, whose founder, Archibald James Campbell, would lead a trip on the first day of September into the countryside to look for wattle. He suggested a national Wattle Day in a speech in September 1908.

    Not to be outdone by Melbourne, botanists such as J. H. Maiden of Sydney's Botanic Gardens called a public meeting in August 1909 to support a Wattle Day and to set aside a day on which Australia's national flower might be worn and displayed.  By 1910, branches of a Wattle Day League were active in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Festivities were held each year on 1 September, marked by bunches of wattle and planting of wattle trees in schools and parks. 1913 saw the incorporation of wattle into the design of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms. 

    Fundraising for World War 1

    Wattle Day festivities intensified during World War 1 when wattle sprigs were widely used as a symbol of national patriotism. Sales of wattle badges and blossoms by organisations like Red Cross were a way of helping soldiers on the war front. In Sydney, demand for bunches of wattle were so great that demand could not be met on 1 September, so in 1916 Wattle Day celebrations were put forward to 1 August. 

    Thus began the divide which continued until 1992. Interest in Wattle Day gradually declined in NSW but in Victoria the Wattle Day League lasted until the 1960s, continuing its push for celebrations on 1 September, which happily coincided with the first day of Spring.

    Renewed interest in the 1980s

    In the 1980s there was a renewal of interest in Wattle Day in NSW when Maria Hitchcock and the Australian Plants Society campaigned for a national wattle day. The issue was resolved from above when on 23 June 1992 the Governor-General Bill Hayden declared that 1 September should be observed as National Wattle Day in all Australian States. Prior to this, as part of Australia's Bicentennial Celebrations in August 1988, the then Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, proclaimed Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle) to be Australia's national floral symbol. 

    These two proclamations from Canberra were a double blow to NSW (as well as Queensland and Northern Territory). Not only was Wattle Day to be celebrated on a day when few wattles were in flower, but the chosen national wattle does not even occur around Sydney or further north, being distributed only in southern NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and around Adelaide and Perth. So we have a national flower which is not nationally distributed and are asked to accept a national celebration in the wrong month of the year. Fortunately the genus Acacia (wattle) is found nationwide and the many species are truly iconic Australian flora which can be celebrated at any time of the year.


    For more on Wattle Day, read the story here.

  • 2 Aug 2019 5:56 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Members of the Study Group focus on investigating and trialing those Australian plants that may be suitable for growing in pots or other types of containers. This Study Group has been in recess for some time but Ros and Ben Walcott, formerly leaders of the Garden Design Study Group, have volunteered to reactivate it.

    Many people live in smaller units and apartments with balconies or have a small area for a garden and growing Australian plants in containers is a great way to have a small garden of native plants. Growing in containers also allows gardeners to have plants that otherwise won’t tolerate local conditions. Ros and Ben plan to produce a newsletter twice a year with contributions from interested members. Membership is free and all newsletters will be distributed by email.

    Ros and Ben would like to receive a picture or two of favourite or interesting native plants in pots with a short description.

    To be added to the mailing list of this Study Group, just email Ros or Ben at roswalcott5@gmail.com or benwalcott5@gmail.com 

    Remember, membership is free to all members of ANPSA affiliated Societies, including Australian Plants Society NSW members.


  • 28 Jul 2019 5:30 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum Open Day is on Sunday 15 September. 

    The Official Opening will be at 10 am but people are very welcome to arrive earlier than that. There will be 15–20 stalls including a coffee van and food sales. There will be plants for sale from the Arboretum Nursery and from Bilby Blooms nursery. Activities are being organised for children and there will be a few workshops and some entertainment.

    Visitors from further away might like to stay at the Caravan Park Cabins at Burrendong Dam on the other side of the road.

    Alice Newton from Friends of Burrendong Arboretum says the drought has taken it's toll but staff and volunteers have worked hard watering and trying to care for plants. The Friends look forward to seeing APS NSW members on 15 September.

    If you can't make the Open Day, the Arboretum is open 8 am to 6 pm daily.

    Location

    Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum is at 95 Tara Road Mumbil, south-east of Wellington in the Central West region of NSW.

    More information

    The website www.burrendongarboretum.org is being updated, so try:

    Friends of Burrendong Arboretum on Facebook

    Poster

    www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/dubbo-area/wellington/attractions/burrendong-botanic-garden-and-arboretum

    www.wellington-nsw.com/BurrendongBotanicGarden.html




  • 25 Jul 2019 8:46 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Cover of book A Celebration of WattleThe following notes are based on Maria Hitchcock’s book A Celebration of Wattle: Australia’s National Emblem (2012). The book is a revised and updated edition of Maria’s earlier book Wattle (AGPS 1991), which grew from a small booklet sent out to schools in 1988.

     



    Acacia or wattle?

    Acacia is the genus name, and wattle is a common name derived from the use of Acacia saplings to build early colonial buildings in the wattle and daub method. This is a rural British building technique where flexible twigs formed a framework on which mud was daubed. Wattle is an Anglo Saxon word meaning woven.

    History of Wattle Day

    Wattles have always been popular because they are tough and hardy, are widespread throughout Australia, are fast growing and provide a blaze of golden colour.

    But although acacias have long been used and recognised as symbols of Australia, it was only relatively recently that our national floral emblem and Wattle Day were officially recognised. Following a successful campaign by Maria Hitchcock and others, Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle) was gazetted as our national floral emblem in 1988 and Wattle Day was officially gazetted as 1 September in 1992.

    Acacia pycnantha www.austplants.com.au

    Early in the twentieth century there was a Wattle Day League and movement to celebrate 1 September. During World War 1, in 1916 the date for wattle day in NSW was changed to 1 August because of the early blooming of wattle around Sydney. In particular, the planted Acacia baileyana, which was used for sprigs of flowers to sell for war fundraising, finished flowering by 1 September. NSW maintained the date of 1 August after the war, and the tradition of Wattle Day was kept alive in NSW in the 1920s and 1930s as school-based celebrations, but faded in other states. 

    Acacia vestita www.austplants.com.au

    Wattle Day Association

    The Wattle Day Association is a community not-for profit, non-political organisation founded in 1998. It aims to raise awareness of 1 September as National Wattle Day, of Acacia pycnantha as our national floral emblem and of wattle as a unifying symbol for all Australians. It promotes National Wattle Day as a day of celebration of Australia and the Australian spirit.

    www.wattleday.asn.au 

    Celebrate your way

    Maria’s book has a whole chapter on celebrating Wattle Day plus an anthology of wattle poetry. The Wattle Day Association website also has some ideas.

    • Wear a sprig of wattle
    • Display a vase or collection of  wattle
    • Enjoy a picnic or gathering outdoors
    • Plant a wattle
    • Sing a wattle song, read a wattle story or wattle poetry
    • Make a wattle-based art or craft piece
    • Wish people Happy Wattle Day and celebrate Australia

    There are also many ideas with an environmental theme for schools and community groups such as competitions, fundraising, displays and stalls.

     

    Acacia acinacea www.austplants.com.au

    Resources about acacias

    Websites

    World Wide Wattle by the Western Australian Herbarium: Worldwidewattle.com 

    Wattle Day Association: www.wattleday.asn.au 

    Acacias for gardens: See our Plant Database with trees and shrubs at www.austplants.com.au 

    Acacia Study Group newsletters: www.anpsa.org.au/acaciaSG 

    Books

    Maria Hitchcock (2012) A Celebration of Wattle: Australia’s National Emblem. Rosenberg Publishing.

    Inez Armitage (1977) Acacias of New South Wales. An oldie and a goodie, with black and white drawings of about 200 species, so look for a second hand copy.

  • 23 Jul 2019 8:48 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Logo for Australian Flora Foundation

    The latest newsletter from the Australian Flora Foundation is now available here. The foundation is a charity fostering scientific research into the biology and cultivation of the Australian flora.


    Research Matters, No. 30, July 2019 includes reports on two Australian Flora Foundation-funded projects:

    • Interactions between native and exotic plants in the context of grassland restoration and the importance of below ground processes – Monique Ellie Smith
    • Cracking a hard nut – germination of Persoonia species, a genus with hard woody indehiscent endocarps – Kerryn Chia

    Other articles in the issue include:

    • Australian native rices – Lindsay Campbell and Christopher Gardiner
    • Germination of Grevillea seeds – Charles Morris
    • Challenges and opportunities for urban greening – Michelle Leishman and Alessandro Ossola
    • What research was AFF funding 25 years ago?

     

    More information about the Australian Flora Foundation at www.aff.org.au

    Donations welcome to fund more research.

    AFF Newsletter July 2019.pdf

  • 25 Jun 2019 9:02 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Dictionary of Botanical Names by the late Don Perrin is an updated edition of Don's earlier book on the derivations of Australian plant names, now with 4,500 entries.

    As an early member of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (now Australian Plants Society), Don was involved in setting up the Glenbrook Native Plant Reserve in the Blue Mountains and was a founder of the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens in Queensland. 

    Cover of Dictionary of Botanical Names

    The following review appeared in the APS South Australia journal, February 2019.

    This is a book which explains the meanings of botanical names at the genus and species levels. The complex Latin and Greek names that are often used to name plants are more likely to be remembered when you can use this book to learn about their derivation or who they were named after. For example, Acacia penninervis has leaves with feather-like veins. Pinna is “feather” and nervis is “vein” in Latin. The author has also drawn excellent illustrations of many of the terms used in his explanations.

    This book would be particularly useful to guides at botanic gardens or to park rangers who are often asked by the public to identify plants. The temptation to use a common name would be less if the guide or ranger could tell a story about the botanical naming.

    Knowing the derivation of botanical names would also be useful to plant enthusiasts who were in the final stages of identifying a plant. This book is a must for those interested in identifying plants and for the libraries of APS groups and educational institutions.

    The following is an extract from the journal Native Plants Queensland, March 2019, by Jan Sked who wrote the foreword in the book.

    This updated edition is now produced in A5 size and consists of 222 pages of fascinating information about the meaning and derivation of our Australian plant names. The introductory chapters, written in Don’s inimitable style, are a joy to read. Then there are 197 pages of definitions, which include about 1,000 new ones, making a total of about 4,500. Don’s excellent line drawings have been retained and they are supplemented with some sheets of colour illustrations as well.

    Enquiries and sales

    RRP $29.95 plus postage and handling

    Email Tracey Perrin at greendataprojects@gmail.com

    Ph 0421 465 464

    Facebook: Dictionary of Botanical Names


  • 25 Jun 2019 8:30 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    This story is based on Ralph Cartwright's presentation to APS Sutherland Group in June 2019 on botanical trivia of Hawaii with photos from his trip and text compiled from various sources.

    Hawaii's volcanic origins

    The American state of Hawai`i includes 137 islands, the largest known as Hawai`i. Of the 8 main islands, 7 are inhabited. They lie in the middle of the North Pacific, about 3,000 km from the nearest continent. The islands are the tops of massive volcanoes, the bulk of which lie below the sea surface.

    This chain of islands developed as the Pacific Plate moved slowly northwestward over a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle at a rate of 50 km per million years. The southeast island is still volcanically active, whereas the islands on the northwest end of the archipelago are older and typically smaller, due to longer exposure to erosion. The only active volcanism in the last 200 years has been on Hawaiʻi, where Kilauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983. The Hawaiian volcanoes are composed almost entirely of the igneous rock basalt. Due to the volcanic activity, the soil is quite fertile. 

    A mix of endemic and introduced species

    Around 95% of plants found on the islands now are thought to be non-indigenous. Since human settlement first by Polynesians and later by early European explorers, food plants and animals have been introduced. These included species such as rats and pigs that have preyed on native birds and invertebrates that initially evolved in the absence of such predators. The arrival of European settlers had a more significant impact, with the promotion of large-scale single-species export agriculture such as sugar cane, pineapples and later livestock grazing.

     

    Introduced Grevillea species with roadside grasses

    Endemic species

    Vaccinium reticulatum


    Vaccinium reticulatum

    Vaccinium reticulatum, or ʻōhelo ʻai, is one endemic plant. It is common around Kilauea at an altitude of around 1,200 m. It is a member of the Ericaceae family, found most commonly in acid and infertile growing conditions. It grows on lava flows and freshly disturbed volcanic ash. Adaptations to volcanic activity include the ability to survive ash falls.

    Vaccinium reticulatum 

    It is a shrub usually 0.1–1.3 m tall, with evergreen leaves, spirally arranged, leathery, oval, 1–3 cm long, red when freshly emerging, then green or green with reddish patches. The flowers are bell-shaped, 8–12 cm long, variable in color, usually red, but can be yellow or pink. The fruit is an edible berry 8–14 mm diameter, ranging in colour from blue or purple to red, orange or yellow. The berries are an important food source for the nēnē, a goose which is the official state bird and endemic to the islands, and the seeds are dispersed in the birds’ droppings.

     

    Metrosideros polymorpha

    Metrosideros polymorpha

    Metrosideros polymorpha, ʻōhiʻa lehua, is another endemic plant found at Kilauea. A flowering evergreen in the Myrtaceae family, it is related to our bottlebrushes. It is a pioneer plant and grows directly on basalt around the lava fields where it is found as a small shrub, but in favourable positions, it can grow to 25 m. Most of the ones seen around Kilauea were up to 3 m tall. It is still abundant, but many introduced plants including Grevillea robusta compete with it and a newly identified fungus is also causing sudden death syndrome in some forested areas.

     Metrosideros polymorpha

    The lehua has adapted to periodic exposure to the harmful volcanic gases seeping up from below the earth by being able to quickly close the stomata in their fleshy leaves. When the wind changes, the pores re-open allowing the leaf to breath again.

    Argyroxiphium sandwicense

    Argyroxiphium sandwicense

    Mauna Kea is the highest volcano in Hawaii at over 4,000 m. Near a small reserve next to the visitors centre was Argyroxiphium sandwicense, the Hawai'i silversword. This is a slow growing plant which can take up to 40 years to send up a single 2 m flower spike and they only flower once. There are reputed to be only 40 plants left in the wild. They grow at high altitudes, on poor soils and are subjected to extremes of weather.

    Like the native goose, it has been decimated by introduced animals, in this case sheep and goats who browsed it almost to the verge of extinction. Most of the feral animals on the mountain have now been eradicated and efforts are being made to revegetate areas like the reserve. The leaves are covered with layers of silvery hairs which reflect sunlight and help conserve moisture.

    Samanea saman

    Samanea saman

    Samanea saman, MonkeyPod Tree, is widespread throughout the islands and is yet another introduced species of rainforest tree, this one native to Central and South America. It is thought it was introduced by ranchers as a shade tree for their beef cattle, who also ate the prolific seed pods when they fell from the tree. It is a fast growing tree, with a wide canopy. In Venezuela, a 20 m specimen is recorded as having a crown diameter of around 60 m and a trunk of nearly 3 m diameter. It is an easily worked, and durable hardwood, popular with wood carvers and furniture makers. In tropical India, the common name is rain tree. Because of the massive crown, cicadas can live in great numbers, feasting on the leaves and their honeydew-like discharge can seem like rain.

     

    Invasive species from Australia and beyond

    The Hawaii Invasive Species Council website lists 75 species for which they have funding for prevention, control or research, including many plants familiar to Australia. These include a senna, the Australian tree fern and Grevillea robusta which has been deliberately planted since the 1800s as a shade tree for coffee and tea but is now one of Hawaii's most invasive horticultural plants and now categorised as a “do not plant” species. Other items on the list include pampas grass, gorse, lantana and of course feral deer, feral cats and fire ants.

     

    Eleocarpus species

    On the island of Kuai’I is a Hindu temple. Next to it is a peaceful grove of some Rudraksha trees, Eleocarpus ganitrus. They are native to the North Indian plains to the foothills of the Himalayas. This grove of 108 trees was planted in 1984 and the trees are now around 15-20 m high. Australian Eleocarpus species include the blueberry ash and the quandong, both with blue fruit, like the Rudraksha.

     The legend is that the God Siva looked down upon the Earth and, seeing the sorrowful plight we humans had created for ourselves, wept a single tear. The tear fell from His cheek and upon hitting the ground created the first Rudraksha tree (the word rudraksha means the tear of Siva). Hindus wear beads made from the fruits for protection. 

    Pennisetum purpureum

    Another introduced plant originally brought in as cattle feed from Africa is Pennisetum purpureum – Elephant or Guinea grass. Unfortunately, it is extremely invasive and has taken over the whole island as it can grow to 2 m. Another introduced African grass, originally ornamental, is fountain grass, which while being quite attractive when seen growing on otherwise bare lava fields, is also fire-adapted. It can sustain fires that spread quickly into adjacent areas and its dried leaves increase the intensity of wildfires. After a fire it sprouts faster than native plants.

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