Along the cliff tops and the coastal dunes Coast Everlasting, Ozothamnus turbinatus, has had clusters of creamy-yellow tubular flowers. Its bright green foliage stands out along exposed cliff-edges.
Coast Daisy-bush, Olearia axillaris, is developing masses of tiny stalkless creamy/yellow flowers in the leaf axils. The greyish leaves stand out in amongst the greener vegetation, and they also have a pleasant silky feel and an interesting, aromatic odour–try rolling and then crushing them in your fingers.
Autumn’s increasing dryness provides a challenge for our plants. In the salt marshes and waterways many saline plants such as Beaded Glasswort, Salicornia quinqueflora, have succulent leaves that store water. At this time of year, as plants mature, the older salt-filled reddish leaves fall off, removing excess salt. This gives these areas an autumnal glow.
Two very similar coastal plants are currently of interest. Ruby Saltbush, Enchylaeana tomentosa var. tomentosa, a succulent, scrambling, prostrate bluish-green, hairy shrub is currently sporting small yellow or red berries. I find this plant grows really well in my garden, and I never notice the insignificant flowers, only the fruits, which in my garden are yellow.
The more common Coast Bonefruit, Threkeldia diffusa, also has narrow, nearly cylindrical, succulent leaves, but the leaves and stems are hairless—maybe a good use for a phone magnifier. A very close look may also help to locate the very small purplish berries which are quite a challenge to find.
Coast Bonefruit (top plant) and Ruby Saltbusgh below
Most of our grasses, rushes, and sedges flower from late spring to late summer, and by autumn are browning off, which contributes to the brownness of our dry autumn rural landscape, roadsides and heathlands. Many of the flower-heads are worth a closer look. One of my favourites is Knobby Club-sedge, Ficinia nodosa, with its single, small, brown ‘pom pom' globular flower-heads, growing near the end of the stems. Its smooth, rounded stems would appear to make it a rush as it was formerly known, and fit the adage: “Rushes are round and sedges have edges.” However, rolling the stem between the fingers will demonstrate that, while not having sharp edges, the stem is uneven and not round. It has been planted in many roadside areas and reserves, such as near the Anglesea Information Centre and at Allen Noble Sanctuary. I have a very robust one in my fishpond, as it likes a wet environment but, once established, it thrives in dry sunny positions … a most useful plant!
The hardy Coast Sword-sedge, Lepidosperma gladiatum, has been bearing compact brown flower-heads for some time. The clumps of large, flat, sword-like leaves are an important feature of our coastal vegetation.
Coast Sword-sedge closeup
I wonder what you might find on your walks at this challenging time of year, and remember to take your Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.
Freesia refracta and Freesia alba X F. leichtlinii are declared weeds in the Surf Coast Shire because they spread easily and threaten to invade bushland. Freesias are perennial herbs that die back in summer and produce new foliage in winter. The highly fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in spring are white to cream and pink with yellow markings, shaded purple on outer surface. Each plant has at least two corms, one below the other, thus requiring deep digging to remove them.
More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.