Our iconic Moonahs, Melaleuca lanceolata, have been a beautiful sight covered with their creamy-white, highly-perfumed ‘bottlebrush’ flowers being enjoyed by insects and birds.
I love their eye-catching twisted shapes, which often make great climbing trees for children, such as in front of the Aireys Inlet Hotel.
Along the clifftops they vary from stunted bushes to medium trees and may be sculpted ‘smoothly’ by the winds, but inland may reach 10 metres in height.
We had a ‘grandfather’ one in our garden which survived the 1983 fires, but last year sadly succumbed to gale force winds. Walking along the beach near Point Roadknight there is clear evidence of ongoing cliff erosion which is also resulting in the destruction of all the Moonahs along the edge, and this will only increase with climate change.
Did you know that in Victoria 90% of Coastal Moonah Woodlands have been cleared, and the remainder are under threat from weeds and development?
This year we are celebrating ANGAIR’S 50 years, and it is a good time to remember our early environmental pioneers who worked so hard in the conservation of our wonderful flora and fauna. The Edna Bowman Reserve in Anglesea is named after Mrs Edna Bowman who was reputed to have lain down in the path of bulldozers to prevent the destruction of some Moonahs. I like to think it was to save the lovely stand of trees on the Anglesea foreshore, near the information centre.
Along the Aireys Inlet clifftops the lower levels of Moonah are often entwined with the Seaberry Saltbush, Rhagodia candolleana subsp. candolleana. Currently the female plants are displaying luscious looking racemes of burgundy fruit…nice for birds but not humans.
Last month I highlighted the unusual twisted white flowers of Sea-box Alyxia buxifolia. These flowers are now being replaced by single bright red berries…again only good for birds.
Last month I promised to look at the wetlands, and indeed in these dry months they are a place to enjoy a number of plants in flower. Allen Noble Sanctuary appears to be almost overtaken by spikes of small pink flowers of Spotted Knotweed Persicaria decipiens, growing in and around the water margins.
Also on the edges are the single white/pink tubular flowers of Austral Brooklime Gratiola peruviana. This upright low-growing plant has paired leaves along its thick fleshy stems.
Along the coastal pathway to Point Roadknight I was pleased to see a number of plants in flower. A widespread hardy perennial Hop Goodenia Goodenia ovata has bushes covered in the distinctive five-petalled flowers. Our other Goodenia species are all quite prostrate.
There was also some medium-height shrubs of Common Cassina Cassinia aculeata with flattish compound cream flower-heads surrounded by the thickly growing short, narrow, dark-green leaves. In Coogoorah Park in the spring I saw some with pink flowers.
At this time of year it is possible to see our only banksia, the Silver Banksia B.marginata with the cylindrical flower spikes in all stages of growth, from pale-green and yellow, to hairy/hoary and pitted brown cones. In the rewritten stories of May Gibbs, which I mentioned last time, I have seen no references to the scary big bad Banksia Men who were the villains of her original stories!
Best of luck on your autumn rambles and remember to take your Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.