August means flowering wattles, so for this month’s field visit I decided to head back to Pomingalarna Park at Wagga Wagga (you may recall that I visited Pomingalarna in March this year).
Just like last time there were fairy wrens in the scrub on the road in, but I got slightly better pictures this time.
There are several species of wattles growing at Pomingalarna – some are naturally occurring, and others I suspect were planted, although there are plenty of young recruits of each species coming up from seed shed by the mature plants. I like seeing natural regeneration from shed seed – particularly in degraded or revegetated sites – it shows that the ecosystem is capable of supporting itself, and replacing older plants as they age and die without needing ongoing revegetation activities to be carried out by people. A lot of the smaller shrub species and some of the larger trees were regenerating from seed as well, which was lovely to see.
But on to the flowers. I love the diversity in Acacia species – at first glance they seem very much alike, particularly the flowers and seed pods, but when you look at them properly there is amazing variety. There are around 1000 different species of wattles (Acacia spp.) found in Australia, and they’re all different. Here are the ones I saw at Pomingalarna this month:
Western Silver Wattle (Acacia decora)
Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana)
Cootamundra Wattle is often considered a weed, as its distribution has been artificially expanded beyond its natural range, because it’s a popular garden plant, and it has a tendency to jump fences and out-compete local species. I’m not sure if Wagga Wagga is within the original natural range of this species or not, it’s located around 100km from Cootamundra, and I can’t find any reliable distribution maps.
Cootamundra Wattle’s other claim to fame is being featured in a song by John Williamson.
Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha)
Australia’s floral emblem. 🙂
Hakea Wattle (Acacia hakeoides)
At least, I think these were A. hakeoides. I missed flowering, although there were a few dead branchlets with flowers on them. The seed pods are diagnostic, but were only just forming and so hadn’t yet attained their mature shape. That’s actually why I photographed them, because how cool do the baby seed pods look?
Queensland Silver Wattle (Acacia podalyriifolia)
I need to do a bit more research into this ID. I think it’s A. podalyriifolia, and most likely present as the result of planting activities by local volunteers (followed by local recruitment from seed), but I could be wrong. It’s certainly very pretty.
There were also a number of other plants flowering, in addition to the wattles:
Daphne heath (Brachyloma daphnoides)
I found several individual Casuarina trees, scattered amongst the Eucalypts and Cypress Pines. Casuarinas have about the coolest leaves you can imagine – they are reduced entirely down to scales, with the end result being long, cylindrical, green, jointed leaf/twigs, that are instantly recognisable.
The flowers are pretty cool too. Casuarinas have separate male and female plants, with vastly different flowers. I found a flowering male plant, but didn’t see any females – here’s hoping there were a few on the other side of the hill, or this boy will have been flowering for nothing.
Greenhood Orchids (Pterostylis sp.)
While I was trying to get a good picture of the Casuarina flowers I realised I was standing in a patch of Greenhood Orchids. Greenhood Orchids are very common orchids, but I still get excited when I see them, because even with the common ones, there’s just something special about native orchids.
This post is getting long, so I will post the rest of my photos from this field trip in another entry later this week. See you then!