Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Wildflowers from the Sandstone Plateaux

These flowers are from East Kangaloon in the Southern Highlands (just north of Robertson).

This large Scaevola flower is very prominent amongst the ground-cover of plants, ferns, and leaf-litter on the forest floor. It is Scaevola ramosissima - the Purple Fan-flower. At present this plant is very commonly seen in most of the sandstone scrub (at least under Eucalypt trees). The flowers are quite large 3 to 4 cm long, with a very definite protruding 3 central petals. The two outer petals appear to be twisted back towards the rear. The botanists regard these "petals" as part of a corolla, deeply split, and spread out like a "fan" - hence the common name.
This genus was apparently named after a Roman Warrior Gaius Mucius Scaevola. The last name was a "nick-name" meaning "lefty" as he plunged his right hand into a fire - supposedly to show his lack of fear of fire (he had been sentenced to death by burning). He escaped execution - as a result of this display of bravery. Supposedly the shape of the flowers reminded the botanist (who named the genus) of a bony (burnt) right hand - hence he gave it the name Scaevola).

Hyacinth Orchids are still in flower (they started in early December). Here is a close-up image of the side of one flower.

(DJW Edit 2.1.2010) Although it is less than clear from this image, and the group shot below, this species is Dipodium punctatum. I had thought that these plants were D. roseum, but having gone back to the same clump in January 2010, I can now confirm that these plants are D. punctatum.)
You can see the twisted stem, which is how most Orchids end up with their flowers held upside-down, allowing the "labellum" (tongue) to serve as a landing platform for insects when wanting to pollinate the flower. In this case, the labellum is the dark pink protrusion at the front of the flower. The column of this orchid is inside the pale pink/white tube. The yellow blob is a cover, behind which the pollen grains are located. Insects attracted to the flower have to enter the tube, and as they do so, they brush the sticky pollinia, which they take (stuck to their wings or head) to the next flower, to effect pollination.

Below is a group of Hyacinth Orchids growing together in a way I have not ever seen before. In this location there were several clumps of Hyacinth Orchids growing in this manner. It makes a wonderful display. They are right beside a road - which is very convenient (for me). The local population appear not to notice them. How strange! Here is a better specimen of the Common Fringe-lily (Thysanotus tuberosus) than the one of which I published a photo a few days ago.I am slightly uncertain about this next identification. I know it is a Hibbertia, but I think it is Hibbertia diffusa (but I am not sure).
This is another plant which is very common on the sandstone forest floor. It is in flower commonly - for most of the spring and early summer seasons. It is probably the most common of the blue flowered plants in flower at present. It is Dampiera stricta.
This genus is named after William Dampier, the famous English "Privateer" (a more polite term than "pirate") who found plants of this genus at Shark Bay in 1688 to Western Australia. His notes of the flora and fauna survived Dampier being marooned (seemingly with his consent) on the Nicobar Islands. He built a new boat, and escaped to Sumatra. His journals survived these adventures, and were studied by Sir Joseph Banks, prior to his own voyage with Captain Cook in 1768 - 1771.

So, there you go, plants, and a bit of Roman and English history as well.

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