Today I went back to the Boxvale Track, near Welby, to check on the progress of some Nodding Greenhoods which I had seen in flower in early spring, two years ago.
I was in luck, fortunately, as they were just starting to flower.
I recalled that this colony is very dense, even though in terms of this species it is not a large colony. In fact there are two colonies, on opposite sides of the track. They are growing in a dark and very protected section of the track where there once was a "tramway" installed to remove coal from a coal mine further out in the Nattai Gorge (in the 1880s). Like all such tramways (or miners' train tracks) they were laid out as straight and as flat as possible. Consequently, the Boxvale Tranway was laid through cuttings in shallow hills, and along built-up mounds of earth and rock, in sections where the ground fell away too steeply for the tramway. In several creek crossings, there were even wooden bridges installed, and traces of that construction are still evident. Anyway, from the point of view of these Greenhoods, there is now a nice, cool, dark cutting about 4 metres deep through a sandstone hillside. Perfect for the Nodding Greenhood (Pterostylis nutans).
Here are two nicely matched flowers, growing like "bookends".
Another specimen was growing nice and tall, very much like the one illustrated in the PlantNET page for the species.Here you can see how close these plants sometimes grow, forming a carpet with their leaves. But only when conditions really suit them.Another interesting plant was a very narrow leaved form of Persoonia.It is almost certainly a natural hybrid between Persoonia levis, (of which there are some specimens growing nearby) and Persoonia linearis, which is the most common Persoonia here. This plants leaves were about the same size and shape as the leaves of a Callistemon citrinus. But it was definitely a Persoonia. The image is not great, but you can make out the fruit, which is diagnostic of the genus. The colour of the leaves, and texture resembled the P. levis parent, but the shape was far narrower, not the broad oval leaves of that species. But it was not at all like the P. linearis species (which has very narrow flat leaves). The bark was thick and reddish coloured, and flaky. In that regard it has the properties of both parent plants. The botanical texts acknowledge that such natural hybrids are not uncommon.
It is a shame that Persoonias are difficult to propagate, as a plant with these characteristics would have garden potential, if only one could successfully strike cuttings. But all the experts say it is virtually impossible to get them to strike.
On the way back to the car, I found several nice specimens of some small Mallee Eucalypts. You can see the multiple stems of this plant, instead of a single trunk, as with most Eucalypts. I have taken a photo of flower buds, and I hope to be able to work out what species it might be, later on. Such plants are recorded from the tops of the Blue Mountains (of which this area is the southern-most extension). And I have also seen similar plants along very exposed edges of the Shoalhaven Valley and Kangaroo Valley. In those cases, they are restricted to growing right on exposed cliff edges. here is was in deep sand, surrounded by tall Scribbly Gums.
Talking of which, here is very fine old specimen of a Scribbly Gum tree.The Boxvale Track goes out about 4 km to a lookout over the Nattai River Gorge, and from there one can take a track down to the river valley. Parts of this track are quite steep, and so there is a nice amateurish cliff warning sign. The point is evident. I should not mock the signwriter's skills, as indeed the valleys of the Blue Mountains and Shoalhaven are known for people slipping or falling over cliffs.I should report that along the way I saw old (finished) flowers of Acianthus (Mosquito Orchids) and many leaves of Chiloglottis (Ant Orchids) and also a form of Speculantha (Tiny Greenhoods - in the "parviflora" group) - with flowers now finished. Also I saw a single specimen of the Tall Greenhood (Bunochilus longifolius) in bud.