While poking about among the mangroves the Samphire stood out as another plant I was unfamiliar with. Samphire is a small, growing to 30cm, leafless succulent herb that grows in dense colonies on salt marshes. I can’t recall seeing it before, I’ll probably notice it everywhere now.
I’ve since learnt that it’s edible too, I must go back to try some!
The crucifix Orchid is popular among the houses in our area. It must have been fashionable at some time in past, or possibly have spread itself from a single stating point. It’s a hardy plant that has taken over large areas of the garden without any special care. It grows as dense stands to about 1.5m high. Individual plants consist of a thin bamboo like central stem with thick oval shaped leaves sprouting directly off it in an alternating pattern.
I just read that the leaves of the purple variety are edible and taste like watermelon. Well, I just tried a leaf from one of the orange ones and they taste like watermelon too! More like artificial watermelon flavour, kind of like watermelon flavoured Nerds.
The flowers are the most striking part of the plant, the varieties in our garden bloom in clusters of vivid red or orange flowers. Each individual flower has a cross shape, hence the name.
As well as seeding, the plant spreads by growing small daughter plants complete with roots from off it’s central stem. The daughter then breaks off, takes root and grows into a new plant.
I’ve removed a lot of crucifix orchid from the garden already, I’d like to get rid of most of it, thankfully the roots are shallow making it easy to pull out.
Another unique and distinctive plant of the Australian bush. Grass trees have a short stout trunk that is often burned black from previous bush fires terminating with a dense tuft of long grass like leaves radiating from the crown. They are very slow growing at a rate of only 1cm per year, that makes a little 30cm tall plant almost as old as me! They make up for it in life span living up to 600 years old. Every year grass trees sprout a large ( up to 2m ) woody spike from the center of their leafy crown. The top section of the spike is densely covered in small nectar rich flowers.
They were a very useful plant to Aboriginies, the nectar from the flowers can be licked off, or the entire flower head soaked in water to make a sweet drink, enjoyed fresh or slightly fermented. The flower spikes were uses as spear shafts and resin could be collected from the trunks and the leaf basses and processed to be used for tools and weapons.
I’ve always wanted a grass tree in the garden, I recently bought one from a local nursery. It’s a Xanthorrhoea johnsonii which I’ve now learned is more of a Northern NSW and Queensland species, I hope it does ok here. But not too well, don’t want it colonizing the bush and competing with the native ones!
“A colossal leafy herb with stiff flowering stem 3-4m tall bearing a dense cluster of large red flowers”– NPOS p.226
The Gymea lilly 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.