Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, January 24, 2011

Christmas Bells on the Knight's Hill corner

Some time ago I saw a few Christmas Bells (Blandfordia nobilis) in flower, in a wet patch of heathland, out on the Barren Grounds. I didn't get any photos of them, unfortunately. (It was a late afternoon, impromptu walk.)

Several days ago I was heading out to the Budderoo Plateau, and I stopped briefly at the Knight's Hill turn-off (from the Jamberoo Mountain Road). This little clearing has been unmercifully shaved by the road-workers when clearing the intersection to make it more suitable for bus transport going to the Illawarra Fly (up on top of Knight's Hill). However, this small patch of fully exposed (no shade), cleared sandstone soil still manages to support a few interesting plants and insects. These classic native plant flowers are growing right beside the road, on a high-traffic corner, but I wonder how many (how few) people ever look?

The stand-out plants are these Christmas Bells.
Christmas Bells

Note the poor sandstone soil here.
Another Christmas Bells plant, with some heath plants
Obviously, this next plant flowered some time ago, for its seed capsules are starting to mature. I find it interesting that the flowers are pendant, but after pollination, the ovary starts to develop, and straightens up, and eventually rises to a fully vertical position. Also, the entire flower stem seems to grow after the flowers are pollinated.
Seed capsules developing on Christmas Bells
There is an obvious seed dispersal advantage in this dual strategy of the stem growing taller, and the seed capsule standing upright. 


mick said...

I knew these flowers grew well in sand but never thought of sandstone. They are so much later than the ones up here. It's a big country!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Remember, I am NOT coastal - at 700 metres. So our sandy patches are only ever derived from sandstone here.
I know they do grow along the coastal plateau, but also in heath lands, from what I hear.
Up here, above the coastal escarpment, Christmas Bells normally grow in "Upland Swamps" or "Hanging Swamps", (with a peat-like soil over sandstone) surrounded by rushes and similar plants.
One also finds them in wet heathlands - such as the "Barren Grounds". Although this particular site is wet (high rainfall) the soil is very shallow, over rock, and very disturbed.
I always find it surprising to see them in this spot, but they flower there consistently (annually), despite its high level of disturbance.
You are right - it is a big country.
It makes it interesting to compare notes, like this.