Plant of the month 04/2023: Hibbertia advena

Guest post by Dr Betsy Jackes with photos courtesy of Rigel Jensen/Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Photo: Rigel Jensen/AWC

This rare Hibbertia from Taravale has just been named Hibbertia advena by Tim Hammer, Helmut Toelken and Kevin Thiele. The Latin ‘advena’ means outside, foreigner or stranger. This is a reference to the fact this Hibbertia is clearly related to species in southwest Western Australia and not closely related to other pungent-leafed Hibbertia species in Queensland.

Photo: Rigel Jensen/AWC

Where has Hibbertia advena been found?
At the western edge of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) Mt Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary, and at one location near the top of the Ben Lomond Mining Lease. Since this area has not been well explored, there are probably isolated populations still to be found.

Photo: Rigel Jensen/AWC

How do you recognize Hibbertia advena?
It is a much-branched prickly shrub with scattered, linear, pungent leaves and strongly rolled margins so that the midrib on the lower surface is obscure. The flowers are borne on small pedicels (stalks). The 15 stamens are divided into 5 distinct groups of 3 and these groups are inserted between the 5 carpels.

Photo: Rigel Jensen/AWC

How does it differ from the ferocious Burra Range species, Hibbertia ferox?
Hibbertia ferox has only 2 carpels that are surrounded by 9-10 stamens and the flowers are sessile i.e. without a pedicel. The leaves are similar but tend to be crowded rather than scattered.

Reference: Hammer, T.A., Toelken, H.R. & Thiele, K.R. (2022). Hibbertia advena (Dilleniaceae), a new and rare species from Queensland with transcontinental affinities. Australian Journal of Taxonomy 9: 1–5. Illustrations p 4.

Plant of the month 03/2023: Heliodendron basalticum

Photo: Julia Hazel

Thanks to John for pointing out this Heliodendron basalticum (photo above) on our recent outing beyond Hervey Range. It was another “new” species for many of us!

Heliodendron basalticum (Fabaceae) synonym Archidendropsis basaltica is an endemic Queensland species with leathery bi-pinnate leaves, sometimes deciduous in dry seasons.

This small tree grows naturally across a wide range in central Queensland. It is known by two common names, Red Lancewood and Dead Finish. The first refers to its dense, straight-grained wood with red tones. The second supposedly came from Indigenous people, who knew the drought-hardiness of this tree, saying “if dis tree die, dis country dead-finish”. Confusingly, the name Dead Finish is also used for other quite different species e.g. Acacia tetragonophylla.

Photo: John Elliott

Heliodendron basalticum has globular yellow flowers (photo above) and large seedpods (photo below).

Photo: Russell Cumming

Heliodendron basalticum is not commonly cultivated but a specimen has grown well in a Townsville garden, photographed as a small seedling in 2010 (first photo below) and flowering in 2018 (second and third photos below).

Photo: Russell Cumming
Photo: Russell Cumming
Photo: Russell Cumming

Plant of the month 02/2023: Sannantha papillosa

Photo: Russell Cumming

Sannantha papillosa (previously called Babingtonia papillosa) was a Show and Tell item at our February meeting – thanks to Charles! We didn’t have time to discuss this interesting species then, so we’ll give it Plant of the Month attention instead.

Sannantha papillosa (Myrtaceae) is listed as Vulnerable under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act because the species occurs naturally in only a few isolated places. One of its locations is revealed by its common name “Mt Elliot Myrtle” but only hardy bushwalkers get to see it thriving on the mountain’s exposed rocky outcrops (photo below).

Photo: Russell Cumming

On the surface of its branchlets (photo below) Sannantha papillosa has ‘papillose’ oil glands (small raised pimples) that distinguish it from other similar species.

Photo: Russell Cumming

Sannantha papillosa was enthusiastically propagated in the early 1990s from Mt Elliot seed by members of Townsville SGAP, now NPQ. The first cultivated plants have provided seed for many subsequent generations grown by our members and by the Landcare nursery.

The species has proved adaptable to local garden conditions, preferring sunny areas with good drainage, and from an early age it puts on a fine show of abundant small white flowers.

Photo: Russell Cumming

Plant of the month 01/2023: Scleria sphacelata

Photos by Russell Cumming, text by Julia Hazel

Thanks to Nanette for identifying this interesting sedge during a recent walk around the top of Mount Stuart.

Scleria sphacelata (Cyperaceae) is a dioecious species, unlike most other Scleria species, so it bears distinct male and female flowers on separate plants.

Flowers of a female Scleria sphacelata plant are shown above. See flowers of a male plant on this page courtesy of Steve & Alison1.

Scleria sphacelata and various other plants with sharp-edged narrow leaves, are commonly called “razor grass”. But for botanists, sedges are NOT grasses!

For a simple way to distinguish the Family of “grass-like” plants, look at the stem (culm) and remember this rhyme:

Sedges have edges,
Rushes are round,
Grasses have nodes from the top to the ground.

Sedges are in the Cyperaceae family. Their stems are often triangular and you can see or feel “edges” on the stems. The stems are solid with no nodes.

Rushes are in the Juncaceae family. They have round (cylindrical) stems which are solid with no nodes.

Grasses are in the Poaceae family. Their stems are round and hollow with solid nodes (swollen joints).

There are exceptions to these simple differences and it’s best to use a botanical key for details.

Plant of the month 10/2022: Lagunaria queenslandica

Photo: Russell Cumming

On our October visit to the riverside “Bush Garden” in Mundingburra, we spotted pink hibiscus-like flowers high up in the foliage.

Greg identified the tree as Lagunaria queenslandica (Malvaceae). It’s a species endemic to Queensland that occurs naturally in open forest and riparian vegetation along seasonal streams.

Photo: Russell Cumming

When it grows in open areas, Lagunaria queenslandica has a spreading habit as suggested by its common name, Queensland Pyramid Tree. In contrast, the tree at the Bush Garden is tall and slender, working its way upwards in a narrow gap within this densely-planted revegetation area.

Photo: Russell Cumming

Young leaves have a pale scaly underside that becomes smoother with age. They are said to have a faint citrus smell when crushed.

Photo: Russell Cumming

Lagunaria queenslandica can be propagated fairly easily from seed if you wait until the pale green fruits have matured to brown before extracting seeds. Take care to avoid irritant fibres when handling the seed capsules.

Lagunaria queenslandica is an attractive and hardy tree that attracts many birds. It’s well suited to local parks and large gardens. Tubestock plants of local provenance are sometimes available at the Landcare nursery in Rowes Bay.

Be aware that commercial nurseries sell similar-looking trees that are cultivars of a different species, Lagunaria patersonia. The natural species Lagunaria patersonia is endemic to Norfolk Island.

Plant of the month 09/2022: Thelymitra queenslandica

An abundance of botanical delights on our September to Mt Zero made it hard to choose a single species for P o M! The editor’s dilemma was resolved, thanks to Ishara nominating the beautiful ground orchid, Thelymitra queenslandica.

Photo: Ishara Udawela

The northern sun orchid, Thelymitra queenslandica, Orchidaceae, is endemic to Queensland, with a limited distribution from the Paluma area to about Mount Finnigan (south of Cooktown).

Photo: Malcolm Tattersall

Thelymitra queenslandica produces a slender upright stem with 4 to 15 flowers that open sequentially on sunny days, closing overnight and re-opening with the return of the sun.

Thelymitra queenslandica occurs at higher elevation (approx. 800 to 1300 m) on rocky slopes, typically in open forests. Within those areas it sometimes grows along road embankments, conveniently visible like the beautiful specimen we saw.

Photo: Malcolm Tattersall