Monthly Archives: September 2011

Unknown Bugs

[update Nov-2015] Finally worked out that these are Gum Tree Shield Bugs

These bugs were on a tree in the wildflower gardens. I’ve been trying to work out what they are. What bug is that looks comprehensive and has a good bug identification tool but I’ve been unsuccessful so far.

They’re quite distinctive looking, part of my problem is describing it in a way that someone who knows this bug would write about it. I found out entomology is very specialized and has a whole language of it’s own!

Tree bug
What is this?
Tree bugs
Whatever they are they like to hang out in packs. Check out the crusty one just below my thumb nail.

Gymea Lily

Doryanthus excelsa

“A colossal leafy herb with stiff flowering stem 3-4m tall bearing a dense cluster of large red flowers” – NPOS p.226

The Gymea lily is exotic looking with it’s huge sword like leaves radiating from it’s base and the towering stem with large flower on top. It’s a popular garden plant, and impressive that it’s naturally occurring in the area. I can’t remember every having seen one outside of peoples gardens though.

Compare the NSW excelsa with the Queensland palmeri, so similar, yet having the flowers grow all the up the stem really sets them apart.

The stems and roots of the Gymea Lily are edible and were consumed by Aborigines.

Gymea Lily
Gymea Lily in the gardens outside the office
Gymea Lily Flower Head
The flower head of another Gymea Lily outside the office

Giant Spear Lily ( Gymea Lily )

Doryanthes palmeri

“[The] Giant Spear Lily is a large, succulent herb which grows as a rosette. It’s hairless leaves are sword–shaped, and up to 3 m long and 20 cm wide” – Atlas of Living Australia

Gymea Lilies are spectacular, especially when they are in flower. The plant is on a colossal scale, sword shaped leaved up to 2m long radiate from a point in the ground. When flowering they grow a thick spear up to 4m long from the center of the leaves with large vivid red flowers perched at the top.

This one had me sratching my head a bit, Gymea lillies are native to the Sydney area and are a common plant in residential gardens. But this individual growing just outside the office has a very different arangement of flowers on the spear from other Gymea Lillies in the area. Instead of one neat cluster at the very top of the spear, the flowers were sprouting form the sides starting about 2/3 of the way up all the way to the top.

After a bit of research it looks like this one is a Doryanthes palmeri, a native of Queensland and far north NSW, not the local variety which is Doryanthes excelsa. I’ll do a follow up post on the local Gymea Lily.

Giant Spear Lily
Giant Spear Lily near my office. It's about 4m high, see my camera case at the base for scale
Flowers on Giant Spear Lily
Flowers growing from the spear on the Giant Spear Lily
Giant Spear Lily Flowers
Giant Spear Lily Flowers Detail


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Brush Turkey

Alectura lathami

Like the Swamp Wallaby the Brush Turkey is another animal that I never saw around here growing up, but has recently come back to the area. Brush Tukeys were once common around Sydney but were more or less wiped out during the depression when people found them to be an easy to catch dinner. It’s only been in the last 10 years or so that they are making a come back.

The Brush Turkey is a large black bird with a red bald head and a yellow ring around it’s neck. They can fly when they want to but they usually get around by walking.

Brush Turkey
Brush Turkey making a quick getaway
Brush Turkey Chick
Brush Turkey Chick in the front yard. Brush Turkey chicks hatch fully feathered and can fly within a few hours.


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