Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, January 30, 2010

More about Christmas Bells around Robbo

Today I found Christmas Bells (Blandfordia nobilis) flowering close to the roadside edge of Butler's Swamp. This area was crucial in the dispute with the Sydney Catchment Authority as it is rated as having the highest diodivesity rating (species per sq metre) of any area in the Kangaloon Aquifer. It is also the "Type Locality" (the place where the specimen from which a species was named) for the Kangaloon Sun Orchid (Thelymitra kangaloonica).

Interestingly, although this Swamp was studied extensively by the environmental consultants SMEC, they never recorded Christmas Bells in Butler's Swamp. That simply means they did not look at the right time, because today I spotted these plants after about 5 minutes looking, from the edge of the easement beside the swamp proper (I did not "trespass").
These "Environmental Studies" are always very limited, and that is why the "experts" ought seek the assistance and advice of local enthusiasts, because we can tell them when and where to look. Otherwise, trying to find a Christmas Bell, by leaf shape alone (when it is not in flower or seed) is far harder than looking for the proverbial "needle in a haystack".
This shows the location of these flowers
vis-a-vis the rest of Butler's Swamp.
See the two red circles drawn in on the image - in the foreground.
(Click to enlarge the image)
There is a monitoring bore (pipe) visible in the far distance.
To my left, from where I took the other photos,
you can see I was close to a monitoring bore.
The SCA boundary warning notice is in the far distance.
I am parallel with that notice, just outside their boundary line.
I have gone back through my old photos of Christmas Bells, and checked the dates for flowering times, in the local area. The earliest I have ever seen them in flower was 2 December 2007, on dry sandstone heath at Budderoo Plateau. Next was 1 January 2009, also on Budderoo, then in Butler's Swamp, from 21 January onwards (over several different years). The latest I have seen them flower there is 5 February 2007. Butler's Swamp is both wetter and colder than other habitats where I have seen Christmas Bells in the Southern Highlands, so that obviously delays their flowering time here.

Interestingly, in the Royal National Park (just south of Sydney, a warm spot on the coast), I have seen Christmas Bells in flower on 22 July 2009. That record (even if unusual) confirms the range of flowering times of this species, and the need for local knowledge, when trying to conduct environmental studies, to find ephemeral flowers, particularly in an environment such as an "Upland Swamp".
A rare golden form of Christmas Bell
in Butler's Swamp 25/1/2007
I have published this image before, but just for old times sake, here is a photo of a rare golden form of the Christmas Bell, which flowered in Butler's Swamp on 25 January 2007. It is regarded by the botanists as a variant form, within the basic species.


mick said...

Lovely flowers and that looks like what I would think of as typical habitat. You're right about "environmental" studies - too often done at the wrong time and I sometimes (rather cynically!) think designed to find as little as possible.

Anonymous said...

Hello Denis, I now regularly read your reports. Did you know that the genus Blandfordia to George Spencer Churchill is appointed? He was also Marquess of Blandford. Source Wikipedia (German). Best wishes Peter

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Your suggestion that EAs are not really looking too hard is scandalous!
Clearly you have had some experience...
Yes, this is classic habitat - which is why I was so annoyed that they didn't find them.


Denis Wilson said...

Thank you Peter.
I did not know of the relationship between the title Marquess of Blandford and the Spencer-Churchill family line.
Famous in history, and for producing "bastards". Sir Winston Churchill was not liked by many Australian soldiers who he ordered into battle with little regard for their safety. As First Lord of the Admiralty, he was responsible for the disastrous Gallipoli campaign (Turkey 1915).
Lady Diana Spencer is also in that same family line.
Glad that you have added the comment.
From what I can see, the name was given by English botanist J.E. Smith" in 1804.
Many thanks.
PS Hopefully we will get some more rain soon, which will help our Fungi develop in late summer and early autumn (Fall).