Monday, 5 March 2012

All the right mauves

Velvet Leaf (Callicarpa pedunculata) is one of my favourite rainforest shrubs. (Yes, I have a league table of favourites.) It grows along the rainforest margin, sending out long stems from the shade into the sunlight. Even though I should trim them back, I always wait until the middle of the year before getting out the secateurs. I can't resist velvet leaf's summer show.

In December, pale buds open into clusters of delicate flowers.

5 December 2011

5 December 2011

But they don't last long. Within a couple of months they give rise to berries so abundant that they weigh down the stems.

5 February 2012

These photos were taken in early February, but the plants are still producing bundles of fruit. They are much appreciated by spotted catbirds and brown cuckoo-doves, which are too heavy for the slender stems and have to perch in neighbouring trees to feed. I have wasted more time than I should in watching a bird on one swaying branch try to reach a second swaying branch without tipping over. I feel that I should set up a little rope walkway, much like the possum ladders across the Palmerston Highway, to help them out. But that might be going too far.

5 February 2012
5 February 2012

The common name comes from the downy covering on the leaves, especially on their undersides. I am experimenting with them — tying them onto the end of a broomstick and using them to clean out the cobwebs from under the eaves. Someone else's eaves, of course, because my place is spotless.

Upperside of leaf

Underside of leaf

Alternatively, I could gather up armfuls and take them down to green tree ant country, so they ants can sew them into nice winter retreats. That's me: always thinking about the wildlife.


Barbara said...

Lovely colours and marvellous food for the birds -

Snail said...

They are stunning. And I've just noticed that some of the tallest Melicopes are in flower now. Not the small one in front of the living room, though.