September 30 - October 6, 2012: Issue 78  

Left to right: Jade Craft, Julie Bennett, Sue Anderson, Petra Godfrey, Peter Beukers, Julie Bennett

 Left to right: Jade Craft, Kerry Smith, Louise Egerton

 Dillwynia floribunda

 Identifying Native Plants of Pittwater - a short course
Pittwater Natural Heritage Association, September 23 2012

If you want to identify native plants it helps to know something about plant families and their characteristics.  The aim of the course was to help the class learn how to learn - using observation, guesswork and reference books.

After a quick session on bushland and botany in the yurt at Katandra Bushland Sanctuary we sallied forth to practise identification with the help of Les Robinson's Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney. This is a must have book.
Katandra provided Bush Pea, Pink Waxflower and Boronia mollis to start the group on the skill of keying out as a means of identification. This is like solving a puzzle by answering a series of questions about the plant.

With the help of hand lenses we looked for glands on wattle foliage, observed leaves - their venation, translucent oil dots and their arrangement on stems, counted the number of petals, their shape and arrangement.

For more plants we went to the heathland of the Chiltern Trail on Chiltern Rd Ingleside. We puzzled over this Hakea with large warty fruit. Its spring flowers were gone. After debate we thought it was probably Hakea propinqua. 

Scribbly Gum, Eucalyptus haemastoma, is the food plant of a tiny moth that lays its eggs on the bark. The caterpillar tunnels for some wiggly distance, then turns around and retraces its route before pupating and emerging as a moth. The visible scribbles were made by last year's caterpillars. This season's bark will later be shed to reveal the tunnels of this year's grubs.

Grey Spider Flower and several peas were flowering. Dillwynia floribunda has dense clusters of flower at the end of its stems. How do we know it's a Dillwynia? Because it has 'Mickey Mouse ears'.  Come to our next course to find out what that means.

Words and Images by Marita Macrae, 2012.

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association 

 Grevillea buxifolia Grey Spider flower

 Hakea propinqua