How lucky are we? The above average winter rainfall has provided us with a spectacular wildflower season.
Whether it is our native orchids or the more widely known wildflowers, there is plenty to get excited about.
Yellow is such a bright springtime colour in the Australian bush, our wattle species being a major contributor, along with the guinea flowers, numerous peas, members of the daisy family and so many more.
We are all very familiar with our local wattle species but have you actually looked at a wattle flower with a hand lens? The flowers of the Myrtle Wattle, Acacia myrtifolia, are well worth a closer look and will reveal the numerous male stamens as well as the yellow petals, which are often hidden by the stamens. The petals are far more visible in the mature bud stage of the flower. Once the buds change from red to yellow you will notice the yellow of the petals and the stamens peeping through.
With all this talk of male stamens you may wonder if wattle flowers have female parts. They do indeed, with the slightly taller single female part located in the middle of each flower.
So what actually is a wattle flower? Looking at a flower stem of a Myrtle Wattle you will see that the buds are grouped into 3, next look at a ‘flower’, you should clearly notice that the flower is actually a group of 3 individual flowers. All wattle flowers are made up of groups of individual flowers.
Silky Guinea-flower, Hibbertia sericea var. sericea, is my favourite guinea- flower, no doubt because it grows so well in my garden. It is the first of our three local species to flower, appearing in August and continuing well into October. The floral structure is similar in all of the species; it is the leaves that assist in distinguishing between the species. Silky Guinea-flower is easily identified due to the elliptical shaped hairy leaves, this hirsute characteristic being described by the use of the specific name sericea. Sericeus means silky, with long close-pressed glossy hairs.
Erect Guinea–flower, Hibbertia riparia, has stiff, rough, linear leaves whose state of hairiness may vary.
Bundled Guinea–flower, Hibbertia fasciculata var. prostrate, has soft, hairy, linear leaves which are bundled into clusters along the stems.
Be on the lookout this spring for the not so common Globe-pea Sphaerolobium minus, its common name referring to the globular seed pods which follow the flowers in summer. Unlike so many of our `peas’ the yellow flowers, often with red markings, are easy to identify as they are arranged on a spike which forms from the upright rush-like stems of this interesting plant.
One plant that you cannot miss in our open forest and heathland is the Button Everlasting, Coronidium scorpioides. Single 30cm- high pale yellow everlasting flowers form from basal clumps of very woolly leaves. The flower stems will be unbranched and woolly, the flowers resembling 2-3 cm sized buttons.
If more yellow flowers interest you, Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet edited by Margaret MacDonald, provides a comprehensive description of local species, conveniently categorised according to their floral colour.
Mayfield, Enid, 2013. Flora of the Otway Plain & Ranges 2, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood Australia.
MacDonald, Margaret, 2009. Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet, Inverted Logic, Melbourne.
Clarke, Ian and Lee, Helen. 1992. Name That Flower, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria.