Sunday, February 18, 2007

Valentine's flowers

There were no red roses delivered to my door on Valentine's Day but there are always some local plants putting on a show along the Cottesloe foreshore - for Valentines and non-Valentines alike, so I took my camera and went for a walk.

Towards the end of summer the female plants of Rhagodia baccata (berry saltbush) can be covered in deep-red berries. The berries are eaten by birds and bobtail lizards. A small butterfly, the saltbush blue, breeds on the plant. Berry saltbush is a common, spreading shrub of the Cottesloe foreshore and grows to 2m high.These two photos were taken in South Cottesloe, near Vlamingh Memorial, a site where Coastcare volunteers have been doing restoration work.

Rottnest tea-tree or Melaleuca lanceolata (moonah) is flowering prolifically at present at many places along the foreshore. It is a hardy coastal species which grows to 5m and can develop a dense canopy right down to the ground. The canopy is a protection from sand and salt blasts. The picture on the left from South Cottesloe shows the wind pruned shapes of these very low tea-trees which receive the full brunt of the weather. Other specimens in John Black Dune Park in a more protected area are 4- 5m high. The summer flowers attract native bees and wasps and the trees provide bird habitat.

A tiny butterfly, a common grass blue which has a wing span of only 2cms is sipping nectar from Rottnest teatree flowers in the picture below. These little butterflies breed on pea plants such as Chorizema dicksonii (yellow-eyed flame-pea)

I think red roses are OK but I would prefer our beautiful local plants any day and my Valentine is not complaining either!