Category Archives: Flora

Colonising Plant Species

Article by James Bevan

The Concept

Plant species which establish after environmental disturbances events are known as “colonisers” or colonising plant species. Following 2019-20 summer bushfires and floods, colonising plants are germinating from seed into the ground layer vegetation stratum. These autotrophic organisms (which produce their own energy as carbon from photosynthesis) are currently superabundant, capturing carbon for ecological communities across the Blue Mountains. This process is known as secondary ecological succession.

The below photo shows a local example of secondary ecological succession dominated by ground layer species Sigesbeckia orientalis and Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus).

Clearing with ground colonised by ground layer species
Colonising plants initiating secondary succession at Carlons Creek, Blue Mountains NP. Photo: James Bevan

Interestingly, many colonising plant species are related members of certain plant families, such as the Grasses (Poaceae), Daisies (Asteraceae), Nightshades (Solanaceae), Peas (Fabaceae), and Mints (Lamiaceae). Some of the colonising species which are currently abundant post-fire and rain are listed in the Table below (Table 1).

Table 1: Examples of Colonising Plant Species

FamilyColonising Plants
Poaceae (Grasses)Right Angle Grass, Wiry Panic (Entolasia marginata)
Poaceae (Grasses)Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides)
Poaceae (Grasses)Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus)
Poaceae (Grasses)*Panic Veldtgrass (Ehrharta erecta)
Asteraceae (Daisies)Sigesbeckia orientalis
Asteraceae (Daisies)*Fleabane (Conyza spp.)
Solanaceae (Nightshades)Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare)
Solanaceae (Nightshades)*Blackberry Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
Fabaceae (Peas)Hickory Wattle (Acacia falcata)
Fabaceae (Peas)Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda)
Fabaceae (Peas)*Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)
Lamiaceae (Mints)Cockspur Flower (Plectranthus parviflorus)
NB. * indicates introduced species

Practical Application – Revegetation

Planted colonising species often have high survivorship rates on revegetation sites. Succession planting describes using colonising plant species during the first stage of revegetation, similar to the process of ecological succession. As our climate continues to change, plantings can expect to be exposed to extreme heat, longer summers and long periods between rain events. Planting colonising plant species with a high survivorship and fecundity may improve the efficiency of long-term ecological restoration.

For example, widely distributed native colonising species that may be suitable for revegetation include Right Angle Grass (Entolasia spp.), Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides), Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus), Sigesbeckia orientalis, Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare), Hickory Wattle (Acacia falcata), Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda) and Cockspur Flower (Plectranthus parviflorus). The ecological communities found on your local Bushcare site will support locally adapted colonising plant species. Your local Bushcare Officer may be a good source of further advice on this topic.

Chiloglottis – Wasp Orchid

Article by Karen Hising, Jan Allen and Keith Brister

Jan Allen, a very observant Bushcare volunteer from the Upper Mountains, found this beautiful Orchid.  From research, we were not sure of the full identification, but we have been advised that it may be Chiloglottis seminuda – other experts may offer an opinion. 

Chiloglottis species – front view Photo credit: K Brister

The genera Chiloglottis is also known as Wasp Orchid.  The common name comes from the “callus” – the glands on the labellum, which resemble the body of a female wasp.  Instead of being attracted by the general offer of nectar or pollen, many Orchid species, such as the native Chiloglottis genera, use sexual deception to attract male wasp pollinators.  These Orchids emit an odorous pheromone very similar to the sexual pheromone produced by females of the pollinator species, thereby luring the male to the flower with the false offer of sex. 

Chiloglottis species – rear view. Photo credit: K Brister

Pollination occurs when the male wasps attempt to copulate with structures on the Orchid labellum that mimic the wingless, ant-like female.  The high degree of specificity between sexually-deceptive Orchids and their pollinators indicates that there must be subtle, but important, differences in the pheromones produced among even closely related Orchids.

References:

Uncovering The Sexual Tricks Of Orchid Flowers (Abstract) – Julianne D Livingston http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n1676/pdf/ch04.pdf

Memoirs Of The Museum Of Victoria 56(2):461-466 (1997) Hidden Biodiversity:  Detection Of Cryptic Thynnine Wasp Species Using Sexually-Deceptive, Female-Mimicking Orchids (Abstract) – Colin C. Bower and Graham R. Brown https://museumsvictoria.com.au/media/4804/jmmv19975639.pdf

http://peonyden.blogspot.com/2011/01/wasp-orchid-chiloglottis-reflexa-comes.html

CLICK below to read the book review – Orchids of the Blue Mountains by Sabine Hanisch and Ben Jasiak; how their daughter discovered a long lost orchid and also about the multi-billion dollar Bush Blitz project – a project finding thousands of new species.

Bushcare Kids Resource Page – Updating the Bushcare Website

Come venture to our new BUSHCARE KIDS resource page and find a range of activities that will enable you to discover, explore and enjoy nature around your backyard.

Our BUSHCARE KID page is found under the RESOURCES tab https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/resources/bushcare-kids/

Here are some exciting activities

1. Birdlife Australia – Bird in Backyards, 26 Mar 2020. Keep your kids chirpy at home with these activities

2. Bushcare Ranger Programs – downloads some great activity sheets to explore around your backyard.

3. NSW Environment, Energy and Science Conservation from Your Couch

Here is a list of ways you can safely maintain your social distance and assist our most vulnerable native animals.

  1. Be an armchair detective
  2. Inspire a new generation of ecologists
  3. Plant a native tree
  4. Birdwatch from your balcony
  5. Listen to a new soundtrack

4. NSW Environment, Energy and Science 28 Threatened Species colouring-in pages and masks.

5. NSW Environmental Education Resources Visit the NSW Government Educational Resources webpage

Also check the Blue Mountains City Council – Connecting with Nature Our goal is to inspire the next generation – by connecting them to our special Blue Mountains environment and fostering their natural love of nature. In a learning experience unique to our City within a World Heritage Area, we offer local students the opportunity to explore their local water catchment, learn why it’s special and take action to protect it.

We hope you enjoy!!

Videos Resource Page – Updating the Bushcare Website

Great news! We have added a new page – VIDEOS to our Bushcare website where we can showcase Blue Mountains Bushcare and volunteers, the environment, threatened species, how to and other interesting segments.

Our Video page is found under the RESOURCES tab https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/resources/videos/

Keep an eye out as we expand the video library. For the time being have a look at videos showing Bushcare South Lawson Park, Popes Glen Wasteland to Wetland, Saving the Callistemon megalongensis, Threatened species in the Blue Mountains and the Turtle Island Habitat launch.

We hope you enjoy!!

Week 2: Native Plants of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Below is the link for our second crossword puzzle – Native Plants of the Blue Mountains . Most of the clues can be found in Native Plants Of The Blue Mountains by Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham.

Our aim is to post a new crossword each week on the Bushcare Website with answers listed the following week on www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au.

If you have some great ideas for our themed crosswords…or wanting to test your own crossword (and possibly cryptic) skills then contact Karen Hising on khising@bmcc.nsw.gov.au 

Instructions

CLICK on the link below and follow the instructions to either fill in online or print a hard copy.

Week 2: Native Plants of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

To FILL IN ONLINE

  1. CLICK on the clue listed under Across or Down – and this will highlight the corresponding boxes (purple) to fill in on the crossword.
  2. To TYPE in the answer CLICK on the purple highlighted box in the crossword and start typing your answer (a correct answer turns the boxes green). If your answer was incorrect then use the backspace to delete then try again for this answer only!!
  3. To RESET ANSWERS (all answers) scroll down the screen  below the crossword and CLICK Reset Answer (red button)

To PRINT a Hardcopy scroll down the screen below the crossword and CLICK Print My Puzzle (purple button)

Answers to Week I: Weeds of the Blue Mountains

Across 3.  Mother 6.   Cat 9.  Elder 10.  Boneseed 12.  Cassia 14.  Cherry 15.  Lantana 20.  Broom 21.  Ochna 22.  Cestrum 24.  Balloon 27.  Madeira 28.  Asparagus 29.  Moth 30.  Turkey 31.  Ivy 32.  PeriwinkleDown  1. Ginger 2.  Butterfly 4.  Tutsan 5.  Trad 7.  Privet 8.  Holly 9.  Erica 11.  Erigeron 13.  Japanese 14.  Crofton 16.  Coreopsis 17.  Pampas 18.  Dogwood 19.  Blackberry 23.  Kniphofia 25.  Gorse 26.  Jasmine

Photos – Backyard Fungi Foray

Our Bushcare Team members are already taking photos around their homes and we came across these small bright red fungi showing Cruentamycena viscidocruenta (left and centre photos) growing on the wood pile and this strange red tentacle fungi – Aseroe rubra (right photo).

These fungi have important roles in the landscape including erosion prevention, forming mycorrhizal relationships with plants, food for animals and invertebrates, and the breakdown and recycling of nutrients from wood and other dead plant material.

What do you need? Armed with just a camera / mobile phone with the flashlight and a keen eye – these small, yet inconspicuous fungi can show a veritable range of brilliant colours and shapes.

So how can we identify these fungi? Our Bushcare volunteer ‘fungi expert’ Liz Kabanoff says by using inaturalist you can upload your own photo and it will try and work out what it is. If the picture is good, it works very well. Also take note of the substrate the mushroom is growing on (soil, woodchip, rotting wood,  living wood, moss, insect etc) which will help rule things out. Other people may comment on your specimen and offer an ID.

Check Liz’s inaturalist project – Fungi in the Blue Mountains to see the incredible range of fungi that you may find. CLICK the link below.

https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/fungi-in-the-blue-mountains-nsw-australia?tab=observations

Why not try this yourself to see what fungi lives around your home?

Remember to send in your photos .

Videos – coming soon

Want an alternative to the ‘other’ live streaming viewing currently on offer.

We aim to provide a platform on the Bushcare Website showing previous videos featuring bushcare sites, volunteers, Bioblitz, community days, fauna and much more.

However, the exciting news is the Bushcare Team (and others in Council’s environmental team) are also preparing to front the camera themselves to produce a host of videos highlighting a range of ‘interesting’ and ‘how to’ segments – such as showing different weeding techniques, treating a variety of common or tricky weeds and a range of videos showcasing flora, fauna, bees, seed collection, biofilters, composting, biosecurity, bush backyards and so much more.

These will be placed on the Bushcare Website when final cuts are ready (www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au).

Watch Now….

Find out all about the recent launch of “Turtle Island” in early March – a floating eco habitat designed to provide a safe nesting place for turtles, from leading turtle expert Dr Ricky Spencer (Western Sydney University).

https://www.facebook.com/bluemountainscitycouncil/videos/2734772646614369/?v=2734772646614369

Photographic Competition

Although we might be more confined than usual, we would love to see any photos of the natural world that you may have or can safely take. That might be birds, insects, animals, geology/rocks, plants, fungi, landscapes, people working in natural areas, or anything interesting about nature in general.

Another great idea is to take before and after photos – whether this is showing bushfire recovery, food from the garden to the plate or just projects around your home. Write a short description to go along with it.

Orchid found at Blackheath Photo: Keith Brister

We would like to create a gallery of photos from our volunteers to showcase each week on the Bushcare Blue Mountains website (www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au).

Some criteria to follow:

  • The photos need to be of high resolution
  • We need to be careful about publishing photos of people’s identity online for privacy reasons, so any people featured need to provide their written permission or their faces are not identifiable
  • The photos will be filed for possible future use in publications, on Council/Bushcare websites, newsletters, bulletins, flyers, etc (credited to the photographer)
  • The photos need to be sent via email to bushcare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

We hope to see your photographic talents soon! For any queries, please contact Alison Steele on asteele@bmcc.nsw.gov.au.

Seed collection workshop

By Tracy Abbas

In early December 2019, Blue Mountains Bushcare delivered the second and eagerly-anticipated Seed Collection Workshop held in Blaxland Library and Community Centre. Tracy Abbas, Council’s Bushcare Officer, organised this exciting event with seed expert Richard Johnstone. Richard was a former seed collector at Mount Annan Botanic Gardens but now plays another important role; as a volunteer with Wildplant Rescue Nursery.

Richard generously shared his immense experience and knowledge, providing attendees with a solid foundation in the principles, procedures and protocols for collection and storage of local native seed.

This Workshop was set at intermediate level, designed to strengthen the knowledge and existing skills base. It was attended by volunteers from Bush Backyards and Bushcare Groups, as well as volunteers from the Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Wildplant Rescue Nurseries.

The Workshop format was designed around both theoretical and practical sessions. The day began in the classroom viewing a powerpoint presentation showing the overview of the day’s events, and covered regulations and legislation when collecting seeds on Council Land. For the second session, the group wandered around the field looking for examples of seeds, flowers and fruits. Richard then showed everyone how to assess seed ripening stages and when was the most appropriate time to collect seeds.

Finally, it was back to the classroom for a discussion, participating in some cleaning of previously collected seeds and reviewing various methods of propagation of a number of different species.

The Workshop was a great success and we plan to conduct another session early in 2020 with the theme of propagation.

Recovering Our Backyard: Mini-Expo February 29

An event organised by Blue Mountains Recovery Wellbeing Committee, Blue ARC, and Resilience & Preparedness Group.

Many residents of the Blue Mountains region are concerned about the impacts of the bushfires on our natural environment and National Park and people need to feel that they can be involved in recovery efforts in a meaningful way.

On Saturday 29 February, Blackheath – a mini-expo is being run in the afternoon to help guide residents on how they can assist the regeneration of our natural environment.

The afternoon will include talks from wildlife experts and a Council representative, there will be tables set up with representatives from local groups and organisations providing information, and opportunities to volunteer.

Date and Time: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Location: Phillips Hall, Blackheath Community Centre – Gardiner Crescent, Blackheath, NSW

To register click on this link below

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/recovering-our-backyard-tickets-94508644901?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=esfb&utm-source=fb&utm-term=listing&fbclid=IwAR035-kBGPiWw2BNtWXjJOSEP3XuO34GbMOA96yYraI2pDeMaaGunY3buU8