Herbs and Forbs
Lobelia gibbosa - Tall Lobelia
This herb is found right across Australia. It typically grows on sandy soils, as it does in our local area, and can reach to 40 cm, its blue flowers
standing out amongst surrounding grasses. In some regions it grows prolifically, but the wet climate and forested slopes of our locality means
that it less frequently seen.
Fruit and Seeds
Archidendron muellerianum - Veiny Lace Flower.
A native tree found only in a few small areas from Rous, near Alstonville in the far north of NSW, north to Little Nerang Creek, near Springbrook
in south east QLD, and so is classified as a rare species. It is mostly seen as a small understorey tree but can grow to 20m. Its orange and pink
pods and shiny black seeds are an amazing sight, when seen glowing brightly in a shady gully. With seedlings and young trees growing up from
below it is not endangered as the seeds do germinate fairly readily.
Athertonia diversifolia - Atherton Almond or Atherton Oak.
A native of the tropical rainforests in the Cairns, QLD, hinterland. The common names refer to two of its main features. The nut inside the fruit’s
blue outer flesh contains a delicious kernel, like an almond, and while no two leaves are the same shape many are highly lobed like an Oak.
Together with its long racemes of perfumed flowers and growing to 30m. Athertonia diversifolia is a beautiful ornamental tree for parks and
gardens as far south as the subtropical regions of NSW.
Callerya megasperma - Native Wisteria
Only found in coastal regions from just south of Ballina, on the NSW north coast, to Fraser Island, in Queensland. It does best when it has good
strong supports to climb up and can go 20, 30 metres or more right up into the canopy. It prefers moist soils and locally is found growing along
stream banks. When in flower the long streamers of purple flowers provide a wonderful sight. The velvety, longitudinal ribbing, of its highly
distinctive seedpods contain three or four large seeds, hence its name - megasperma. The pods are quite buoyant before they split open and so
can float downstream - a good propagation method.
Hicksbeachia pinnatifolia - Red Bopple Nut
Is a member of the Proteaceae family, another of the iconic Gondwana plant groups. There are only two Hicksbeachia species, Hicksbeachia
pinnatifolia, as found in the wild in the Gondwana Rainforests of the Mt Warning caldera and Hicksbeachia pilosa, found in the wild in the Wet
Tropics Rainforests in northern Queensland. In the days of the Big Scrub Hicksbeachia pinnatifolia was not an uncommon tree but it now is listed
as vulnerable, nationally as well as in NSW and QLD. This means that although it is not endangered now it is at risk of extinction in the medium
term future. This slender tree, rising to no more that 15 m is worth planting in a garden, not only to ensure its future but also as a striking
feature tree, with its long racemes of many small perfumed flowers, spectacular pinnate leaves that can be over a metre long, which have a
pinky-red flush when young, and the bright red fruits, enclosing an edible nut, which give it its common name.
Climbers and Twiners
Pandorea jasminoides - Bower Vine.
A tall, woody native climber and twiner. It is found in sub-tropical rainforests northwards from the Hastings River in NSW through south east
QLD to north of Brisbane. Although I have seen it growing in the wild, it is hard to spot as it flowers in the upper levels of the rainforest. It is a
native that makes a good garden plant, flowering for about nine months of the year with the leaves providing filtered shade.
Caladenia carnea - Pink Finger Orchid
One of Australia’s 800 or so species of native orchids that belongs to the terrestrial orchid group. It has a wide distribution across Australia’s east
coast regions. I have found it growing locally in wooded areas with filtered light, on well-drained soils overlying sandstone. It can stand up to 25-
30 cm high, with its single leaf often lying flat along the ground.
Trees and Shrubs
Araucaria cunninghamii - Hoop Pine
The Family Araucariaceae is one of the iconic Gondwana plant groups now found almost entirely in the southern hemisphere. The amazing
discovery of the Wollemi Pine in the 1990's added a new genera to the Araraucariacea Family. Araucaria, one of the four genera now recognised,
is represented in Australia by Araucaria cunninghamii, Hoop Pine, Araucaria bidwillii, Bunya Pine and Araucaria heterophylla, Norfolk Island Pine.
Hoop Pine is found in the wild in the rainforests of northern NSW and southern QLD where they do best in damp areas near watercourses. In
the rural area where I live they are often seen growing along fence lines and near older houses, especially down near the creeks. The bark of
young trees is very smooth, shiny and almost metallic looking, peeling off in layers as the tree grows. The bark of older trees is rough and grey,
with the characteristic ring marks around the trees, hence its common name. Hoop Pines may live up to 450 years and can grow to 50 - 60 m
high. Hoop Pines like that are rarely found today as they provided excellent timber. However, the species is not in any danger of dying out as it is
grown extensively in plantations, especially in southern Queensland. The plantations are run on 50 year cycles producing a very fine timber with
many good qualities and end uses. Hoop Pine plantations also have the beneficial effect that other native plants grow in the understory, unlike
in Radiata Pine plantations where the pine needles suppress other plants.
Adiantum hispidulum - Rough Maidenhair Fern
This fern has the distinguishing feature that when very young its new growth emerges with a pink colour. This only lasts for a few days before
turning to green. Maidenhair ferns are widespread and, of the some 200 species world wide, eight species grow in Australia. In the wild it is
found growing in damp areas, near creeks or other damp spots, and so in NSW it is only registered as occurring in the coastal regions. Adiantum
hispidulum also needs to be well shaded, as I have observed that the fronds tend to get scorched if they happen to catch bright sunlight, which
may occur as the plant grows or as overhead shade diminishes. Around where I live it can be found growing in niches in rock faces, springing up
from beneath fallen trees or underneath thick tree cover. Maidenhairs are often used as house plants but do need a lot of care.
Platycerium superbum - Staghorn Fern
Is an epiphyte, as it grows on trees. Staghorns can be quite large, ones I have measured being two to three metres from top to bottom and up to
two metres across. Where there is a mature specimen of this size, there will often be many others in various stages of development nearby. The
downward hanging lower fronds give the plant their common name, as the relatively narrow fronds divide towards their ends and look
somewhat like a stag’s antlers or horns. These are the fertile fronds with spore bodies located on the underside. The spores are wind dispersed,
doing best when landing in the crevices of rough barked trees, so helping the plant’s roots to firmly anchor the plant as it develops. The upper
fronds are larger and face upwards, opening out from their base and overlapping to form a good receptacle for the leaves and other forest litter
floating down through the forest which provide the plant with nutrition. In Australia Platycerium superbum is found growing in the wild from
the Nabiac Valley in the north east of NSW northwards to Cape York in QLD, and continuing north through Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and
Malaysia. Because of their spectacular appearance Staghorns and other similar species were, and still are today, prized as both garden and
General - a mix of plants
Includes Breynia sp. nov (dark red leaves), Hibiscus splendens (big pink flowers) and Pandorea jasminoides.
Breynia sp. nov. (Iron Range) was recently declared a separate species in its own right, with the tag ‘Iron Range’ added to B. cernua, because it
was originally found in what was then Iron Range National Park in Cape York, QLD, now Kutini-Payamu National Park. The dark red leaves are its
distinguishing feature and set off the small pink berries that form after it flowers in mid summer. It grows quickly to a small tree. Hibiscus
splendens, or Pink Hibiscus as it is commonly known, is native to the mixed coastal forests of the central and north coasts of NSW and those of
southern Queensland. Usually found on the edge of the forest or in clearings rather than deep shade, it flowers from spring through to summer
but, like many other Hibiscus, the individual flowers only last for a day or two.