Spring is always a busy time for the TSG as it is so much easier to monitor rare species when they are in flower. As can only be expected,some searches were successful, others not. But it is always a good experience to walk slowly, concentrating on the vegetation, with others there to help you learn the not-so rare plants as well. You certainly don’t need to be an expert. Plus you get out to see different parts of the Park. Only two of the excursions are written up here, but there are a few more photos on the website.
GRAMPIANS RICE FLOWER SEARCH 27/10/11
It was a very small group who went looking to see how this unusual rice flower (Pimelea pagagophylla) was faring on Mt William. But the three of us had a great day. We started near the car park and looked along the road and on the hill above. We found so many that we stopped counting at about 150. Most were young, and quite a few looked as if they were suffering from the dry spring. It will be interesting to see how they go. There were also quite a few of the more common Pimelea linearii, three different tea trees, the tallest fairies’ aprons I have ever seen, grevilleas looking dramatic …. On the way back down the rocky slopes were an absolute garden of different low shrubs: kunzea, boronia, grevilleas, goodenia …..
GRAMPIANS DUCK ORCHID SEARCH 26/11/11
About 20 enthusiastic searchers participated in the 2011 Threatened Species Group search for the Grampians Duck Orchid (Paracaleana disjuncta). This orchid grows to 15cm, has a distinctive ovate green leaf with purplish underside (usually withered at flowering time), and only has dark wart-like calli on the front third of the labellum.
The weather remained overcast throughout the day providing ideal search conditions – not too hot for the searchers and not hot enough for snakes to be out and about. Two tiger snake sightings were however reported at the end of the day.
We searched two areas in the southern Grampians where Stringy Bark with healthy understorey and lots of sedges suggested the possible presence of duck orchids. All three Duck Orchids found in the Grampians require the same mycorrhiza association and can therefore be found growing together.
To get to the first area we passed through a dense area of damp heath noting a number of plants flowering along the way (see list below). Two Lathams Snipes were flushed out of the sedges as we walked through this area. Our search under the Stringy Barks at Site1 revealed several Large Duck-orchids (Caleana major).
In the second area off the Victoria Valley Rd where the understorey was more open we discovered both Calaena major and Small Duck Orchids (Paracalean minor), including one large patch of about 70 plants, but alas none of the target species.
On our way back to Brambuk we were treated with a short detour to view an Elbow Orchid that had been discovered the previous day by Ivan and Margaret Margitta at a spot recommended to them some ten years ago. Despite looking each year, this was the first time they had found one there!
Helping with these searches is a valuable learning experience – next morning with a better understanding of where to look, we went searching on our own property in the northern Grampians and found lots of Small Duck Orchids, including a patch that looked like apomictic plants (plants that reproduce asexually) almost at the back door!
Some of the plants identified included:-
Acacia verticillata Prickly Moses
Allocasuarina misera Small Casuarina
Bansia marginata Silver Banksia
Boronia nana var pubescens Dwarf Boronia
Brachyloma daphnoides Daphne Heath
Calaena major Large Duck-orchid
Calectasia intermedia BlueTinsel-lily
Carex fascicularis Tassel Sedge
Conospermum mitchellii Victorian Smoke-bush
Dianella admixta Black-anther Flax-lily
Dillwynia glaberrima Smooth Parrot-pea
Gompholobium huegelii Common Wedge-pea
Grevillea aquifolium Holly Grevillea
Helichrysum scorpioides Button Everlasting
Hibbertia fascisculata Bundled guinea-flower
Hibbertia riparia Erect Guinea-flower
Hypoleana fastigiata Tassel Rope-rush
Leptospermum myrsinoides Heath Tea-tree
Melaleuca squamea Swamp Honey-myrtle
Melaleuca squarosa Scented Paperbark
Patersonia fragilis Short Purple Flag
Pimelea linifolia Slender Rice-flower
Stylidium graminifolium Grass Triggerplant
Thysanotus juncifolius Branching Fringe-lily
Xris operculata Tall Yellow-eye
Asplenium flabellifolium Necklace fern
Caladenia sp. Green-comb Spider Orchid
Calytrix teragona Heath Myrtle
Comesperma calamega Blue-spike Milkwort
Gompholobium ecostatum Dwarf Wedge-pea
Isopogen ceratophyllus Horny Cone-bush Lepidosperma carphioides Black Rapier-sedge
Paracalaena minor Small Duck Orchid
Spyridium vexiliferum Winged spiridium
Xerochrysum obtusangulum Common Flat- pea
Thinninorchis huntianus Elbow orchid