Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, November 29, 2010

Grevillea acanthifolia

Grevillea acanthifolia is another prickly Grevillea, with a very limited distribution. It is very similar in plant growth to the local Southern Highlands endemic species, Grevillea rivularis (the Carrington Falls Grevillea). G. acanthifolia grows in the far western edges of the Blue Mountains, in the headwaters of the Cox's River, north from Lithgow. It grows on the edges of peat swamps, high in the sandstone ridges above Lithgow. The habitat and plant description is given in the Flora of Australia Online entry.

The over-all plant structure, and leaf and flower structure of this plant is similar to Grevillea raybrownii which I have recently posted about. The flowers (on G. raybrownii) are smaller, but both are "Toothbrush" Grevilleas, but G. raybrownii is creamy, not pink. However, that plant grows on rock shelves high in sandstone gorges, whereas its Lithgow relative grows in wet peat-swamps perched high in the gentle valleys just below the sandstone ridges in the Lithgow area.
This image shows the much-divided (but flattened) leaf structure,
and "toothbrush" flower structure.
Here is a close-up shot of the attractive flowers of this species.

The reason for the descriptive term "toothbrush" Grevillea
is clearly evident.
Here is a shot of an open area of the peat swamp which has been destroyed by drying out, caused by long-wall mining underneath the ridges and the creeks which historically have fed this swamp. The dominant plants have died out. Then off-road vehicle vandals have destroyed the remaining ground-cover plants.
Both forms of habitat destruction are a great pity.

The Coal Mining threat was subject of a weekend regional conference in Lithgow, of the Rivers SOS group, of which I am a member. Our tour of the Cox's River headwaters was part of this Conference.
The denouement of this tour was a visit to one of the marvellous "Pagodas" for which this area north of Lithgow is famous. Fallen cliff-lines are visible in the distance. The damage is recent - caused by Longwall Coal Mining, obviously allowed to approach too close to the clifflines.

So, at the end of this tour, one has to ask if these plants and the other rare plants of the region are threatened by Mining?

I would have to say yes - in all probability. This is because of the impact of Mining on water flows through the rock structure, which alters the natural flow of water which has been the main factor in creating the unique geological structures known as Pagodas; and also in creating the Upland Swamps. Many of the Swamps have been threatened by discharges of highly saline mine water. And the clifflines and pagodas are structurally threatened by cracking and by rock-falls.

Wake up Australia. Value more highly these irreplaceable treasures.

Once our generation has destroyed them there will only be pictures left to tell our Grandchildren what was once here.

Xstrata will not care.
Centennial Coal and their Thai Partners Banpu will not care.


mick said...

A beautiful grevillea. It's a great shame that so many put so little value on the natural environment. Once it's gone it can't be retrieved.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Indeed. Once the environment is destroyed these plants just disappear.
Many of these swamps have turned into grasslands. Good for Kangaroos, but not the same as what ought have been there - sedges and rushes, with a fringe of Leptospermums, and some of these Grevilleas. They only occur in these special habitats.
There are 3 subspecies, but this one is the form from the Western side of the Blue Mountains. And that's where the coal mining is taking place.
The key factor is water slowly soaking down from the tops of the ranges. Once coal mining cracks the rock beds, the swamps dry out.

penny said...

Denis, I think its time for us all to mount a "class action' in the name of our Grandchildren, against the huge grip of Big Coal and Big Oil. There will be nothing left for our grandchildren, not even enough oil to make a plastic toothbrush, let alone look at one that grows. I beg the Legal Fraternity to give this some thought before its all too late.
cheers Penny

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Penny
I agree entirely.
I am doing what I can to publicise these issues.
We need some friendly Lawyers to come on side.
At least we know we are all on the same side of this issue.