Below is an extract from Cunningham’s journal (published in 1862 by Bentham)
The Rocks are a coarse grey-Granite, with others of a kind of Schistus, pieces of which were broken off & carried on board, but had no effect on the Compasses there. The magnetical attractive Principals are possibly in the Bowels of the Earth. In the Descent we traced a rugged Deep grooved Gully, that conducts the bodies of Water falling on the Hills in the Rainy Season to the lower flats, on the Margins of which I noticed some very fine Plants of whom a few were new to me, viz., Corchorus hygrophilus, capsulis 4-locularis rugosis foliis elliptico ovatis acutis 5-nervis serrataris [sic] inaequalibus subsetaceis racemis axillaribus [with 4-locular wrinkled capsules, leaves elliptical-ovate acute 5-nerved, unequally toothed and slightly bristly, racemes axillary], with seeds 120.
For a long time, this attractive large shrub has been a popular choice for native plant gardens. Right now it’s easy to see why, as specimens in Townsville gardens are currently full of flowers (mid June 2020).
Neofabricia myrtifolia thrives in local gardens although it is not actually native to the Townsville area. It is a Queensland endemic, however, with it natural range in the northern part of Cape York.
While the hills around Townsville are still very green, not many species are flowering or fruiting now. An attractive exception is Aidia racemosa. Its colourful fruits caught John Elliott’s attention this week (mid-May) out at Cape Cleveland, and earned it Plant of the Month status. The strongly perfumed flowers were photographed in January.
Our regular meetings and outings remain suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions. To lighten the mood we chose a Plant of the Month that represents the cause of the global pandemic. But don’t worry, the plant presents NO infection risk!
Nauclea orientalis, the Leichhardt tree, was dubbed the “coronavirus tree” by our friends at the Bush Garden Nursery. They noticed a curious visual similarity between a coronavirus image and the tree’s spherical flower heads.
The size difference is vast. Nauclea flower heads are golf ball-sized, while coronavirus particles are so tiny you would need an electron microscope to see them. But that’s not something to try at home.
Nauclea orientalis is an impressive tree in its own right. You can find botanical details and more photos on our species page.
* Image “Australia’s ‘coronavirus tree’ ” created by Julia Hazel as a derivative of “Nauclea orientalis” by Tony Rodd used under CC-BY-SA, and “Computer render of SARS-CoV-2 virus” by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the public domain.
The flowers of Abelmoschus moschatus, very familiar as our group’s logo, are currently making a bright show on hillsides around Townsville, prompting nomination as our Plant of the Month.
These plants were almost invisible during our prolonged dry season but their hardy underground tubers (below) survive in a dormant state. They quickly sprout new growth with the onset of the wet season and have an impressive ability to find their own space amidst dense clusters of native grasses.
The local wild form of this species is a low-growing, trailing plant with usually watermelon-pink flowers. Its prolific flowering habit makes it an attractive addition to a sunny garden or large pot.
A different variety, also attractive but not of local provenance, can be seen in some Townsville gardens. It has taller, more erect stems and somewhat darker red flowers and was sold previously as a ‘native’ species. The true provenance of the more erect/red variety remains unknown.