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.


Calling Ravens said...

LOL-throwing gang signs with wings-LOL!!!
I love wrens! Those crimson seeds are stunning!
Have a great weekend (I know it's early, but it is a 4-day weekend for me)!

laurak@forestwalkart said...

oh well...guess it's not a marsupial wednesday either :(

but WHO CARES! they're there...they just don't feel like smiling for the camera right now!!

those little buttonwood flowers are beautiful! and the bright red seed pods!! i guess this plant was designed specifically for BUGS so the birds wouldn't be bothered by other critters hanging around...easy access.

Snail said...

Meggs, the scrubwrens are small, cute and very thorough when it comes to catching insects. And they talk all the time. I suppose they could be keeping in touch among the thick vegetation, but I think they're bragging to one another.

It's entirely possible I've gone troppo.

Snail said...

Laura, I'm rationing my marsupial pics! Now the Wet has arrived it'll be difficult to get even passable photos.

Those bright red arils are something. If there are any left on the tree, I'll check them out. They're probably the only edible bit of the fruit. (I'm notoriously unobservant when it comes to plants.)