Wednesday, 23 November 2011
The Wednesday Herbarium: Buttonwood
The buttonwoods(Glochidion harveyanum) are doing well. For the past month or so, the stems have been covered in tiny yellow flowers that are popular with flies and wasps.
Now they are loaded with blushing fruit that look delicious, but are ignored by the birds and possums. Despite their enticing appearance, the fruit are nothing more than papery capsules enclosing half a dozen seeds. With all the other possibilities in the rainforest, these are very low down on the list of preferred noms.
That's not to say that everyone avoids buttonwoods. Large-billed and Atherton scrubwrens and brown gerygones love these trees. The birds get into gangs to hunt insects among the leaves. (The only thing that stops them from mugging tree kangaroos is the difficulty of throwing gang signs with wings.)
And this morning, I saw a Lewin's honeyeater on a buttonwood. It was stabbing fruit with its beak. To get at the insects inside.
It wasn't interested in the seeds cloaked in their scarlet arils. Didn't give them a second look.
I did, though. They're glorious.