Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, February 03, 2006

Foggy botanical descriptions

Returning from Canberra yesterday afternoon, was like going from a blast furnace, into a gardener's "shade house". Of course, I am talking about a fog. A good one. It was widespread - 40Kms of it, right out to the Hume Highway, at Sutton Forest (beyond Moss Vale). It was 37 degrees Celsius in Canberra in mid-afternoon. Back here, in Robertson, it was 23*C (according to Anni's blog). Lena, who had been flaked out on the seat, lying directly in the jet of the car's air conditioner, stood up and looked outside the window, and started wagging her tail, as we drove into the fog. That's 2 votes in favour of the relief of entering the fog.

Anni has a nice "tryptich" image of the fog, 3 photos of from the same point of view - before, half-way through and when the fog had fully settled in. Nice photo of the gate, Anni! And that was yesterday afternoon. The same fog is still here, just as thick, late on Friday afternoon.

I delivered 3 lots of specimens of Persoonias to the Botanic Gardens in Canberra, for identification. From what I can work out these plants are the same species, just with variant leaf forms. I am attaching 2 photos today of a specimen which I picked up just near Paddy's River (on the Hume Highway), on the southern edge of the Wingecarribee Shire. This particular location is interesting, for it is on the very edge of the Sydney Sandstone country. Beyond this point, the stone substrate changes quickly to shale and then to limestone (around Marulan) and then to granite, near Goulburn. It shows that the early settlers took notice of geography and geology when deciding on council boundaries. There is a distinct change - within a few kilometers - in the stone base, and the vegetation types. And that was recognised by the people who set the shire boundaries.

This Persoonia has much narrower leaves than the local forms, but they have similar flowers and the ovaries where flowers had been (which can just be seen in the upper photo), as little green swellings on tiny stems) are identical. These will develop into smooth, fat green "drupes" - fleshy fruits with a hard stone inside.

The leaves on this Paddy's River specimen have a distinct rolled edge. This is less obvious on the local plants, which have wider leaves, so the rolled edge is relatively less pronounced (because of the wider blade of the leaf). Hopefully I shall get an identification of all these plants soon. I am guessing they are Persoonia mollis, but they are all different from the forms illustrated in any books which I have seen, or even from the illustrations in "Plantnet" of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

Description: Erect to prostrate shrub, young branchlets moderately to densely hairy.

Leaves alternate to opposite or whorled, linear to narrow-elliptic to narrow-oblong to lanceolate to elliptic, 1.5--12 cm long, 0.8--17 mm wide, flat or convex, margins recurved to revolute, sparsely to moderately hairy when young, glabrescent to sparsely hairy when mature, smooth to moderately rough.

Inflorescences growing on into a leafy shoot; flowers subtended by scale leaves or leaves; pedicels 1--3 mm long, erect, moderately to densely hairy. Tepals 8--11 mm long, obtuse to caudate, moderately to densely hairy. Ovary glabrous.


This is why I am just an amateur plant enthusiast, not a botanist. Even when it is not foggy, I am caught up in foggy botanical descriptions.

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