Thursday, 31 January 2008

Saltbush spectrum

Fragrant saltbush (Rhagodia parabolica) is rare in Victoria but you might not think that as you begin the Lerderderg Gorge walk at Mackenzie's Flat. There, saltbush forms dense stands on either side of the track.

The leaves and flowers are discreet and understated in two-tone grey-green but the fruit are as colourful as a bag of parrots. Rhagodia parabolica produces berries in a range of shades from white through yellow and orange to bright red.

At this time of year, silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis) stuff themselves silly on the fruit. They prefer red over other colours, apparently, but neither they nor the other frugivorous species appear reluctant to diversify. I can see their point. The berries all look delicious to me.

Seeds from different coloured fruits exhibit different germination characteristics. Plants pop up from red seed much more rapidly than they do from yellow. White seed has the greatest germination rate after emerging from the back end of a silvereye. (You can think it, but don't say it.)

This array all occurred a 50 metre stretch of the track.


Chuckie the plant freak said...

Howdy Snail!

What a beautiful array of fruit and such luscious pictures. It always amazes me that many locals don't appreciate the beauty of the local plants. I am sure in some countries these lovely plants would all be in nurseries with naff names like Lemon Gelati, Tangarine Glow, Snow White, Pink Princess, Pink Parfait and Rouge Kisses. Our Local university gardeners have recently decided that "Saltbushes" are unattractive garden plants and have sprayed out the smaller ones and cut out most of the Rhagodia parabolica that had been lovingly planted. We are now left with a handful of trees, dead grass and an endless sea of hardwood mulch. Your blog should be compulsory viewing for any would-be gardener!!!

Keep up the interesting and beautiful writing and photography.

All the best,


Snail said...

A good teacher introduced me to these gems of the bush.

I'm going to recommend this plant to Molecular JJ for his garden near the coast. They'd be brilliant fruiting en masse and the rest of the year, they'd provide a subtle backdrop for other plants.

philip said...

Hi snail love your work.

Nice photos.
We planted a few of these on the sommerville rd overpass (too close to the path!) and also down under the westgate bridge with the Friends of Stony Creek. I don't think we get the diferent coloured berries though. These plants thrive in dry conditions .
Regards Philip

Snail said...

I must check out those plantings next time I go to Williamstown. I've got to get myself down there soon anyway to take some mangrove photos. That area is looking good, thanks to the Friends.

Glad you're enjoying the blog!

Anonymous said...

Chuckie, you must be at The Waite, in Adelaide ... or are all plant type Uni places the same?

Snail said...

I suspect they're all the same, jj! Chuckie is in Victoria.