Thanks to Cameron for nominating Jacquemontia paniculata (Convolvulaceae) for P o M and providing his fine photos.
Cam found an abundant display of Jacquemontia paniculata flowers on Castle Hill early this month, April 2021.
Jacquemontia paniculata is a slender vine, potentially quite widespread locally, but it’s easily overlooked for much of the year. It twines inconspicuously around the stems of other small plants until its dainty lilac flowers attract attention.
Russell’s photo (below) was taken in April 2010, suggesting this is a good month to keep an eye out for similar displays. However, it’s unclear whether Jacquemontia paniculata flowers so abundantly at the same time each year.
Heritiera littoralis (Malvaceae, previously classified as Sterculiaceae) was selected as Plant of the Month during our March outing, against some strong competition from the fascinating mix of species at the Palmetum.
Although this species typically grows in low to moderate salinity conditions at the landward edge of mangrove forests, two specimens are thriving beside the Palmetum’s freshwater lagoon.
The small flowers, covered in fine hairs, develop into large keeled fruits that are tough and buoyant when ripe, well adapted for long-distance dispersal by water – see photo at the bottom.
Heritiera littoralis is distinctive from a distance on breezy days because upturned leaves flash intermittently like small mirrors within the dark green canopy, in keeping with the species’ common name, Looking-glass mangrove. On calm days, the leaves create a silvery-white glow under the canopy.
There is another large specimen in cultivation at Anderson Park, as Greg reminded us. If you have a seasonally wet and boggy corner of the garden, where it’s difficult to find a suitable plant, Heritiera littoralis might be worth a try. Just keep an eye out for those distinctive floating fruits when they wash up on the beach.
Fagraea fagraeacea (Gentianaceae), with beautiful perfumed flowers, was a highlight of the recent NPQ outing to Paluma.
This was an unexpected new species for many of us but fortunately John had spotted it a few years ago, and then spent several days working out its ID. Very convenient now, to have a quick answer about an unfamiliar species!
Fagraea fagraeacea is endemic to North East Queensland, growing in well developed upland and mountain rain forest at altitudes of 300 to 1250 metres.
Good rains at the end of December sparked a tiny flowering bonanza amongst the smallest of our local native plants. Due to their size, many remain inconspicuous, even when flowering. Tricoryne anceps (Hemerocallidoideae) is a delightful exception.
Without flowers, Tricoryne anceps is easily overlooked as just another low-growing grass-like plant. Currently (Jan 2021) it is at its best, displaying lots of small golden flowers at the ends of its unusual flattened stems.
Curiously, this attractive plant seems to be unknown in cultivation, possibly due to difficult propagation. If any readers have experience with growing Tricoryne anceps, we would love to hear from you. Our contact details are available here.
Thanks to Greg for nominating Corymbia tessellaris as our December Plant of the Month – something BIG for a change! More thanks to Greg for letting us use his fine photos.
Corymbia tessellaris occurs naturally in open woodlands of Eastern Queensland, extending into northern New South Wales. Under favourable conditions it can reach more than 30 metres in height.
Corymbia tessellaris is one of the easier eucalypts for beginners to identify, with its dark tesselated ‘stocking’ at the base of the trunk, and an abrupt transition to smooth pale grey bark above. Small longitudinal ridges on the urn-shaped capsules also aid identification.
Corymbia tessellaris has proven one of the most successful eucalypt species on revegetation sites in Townsville. As a bonus, when in flower these trees attract an abundance of birds and insects.
This month we highlight an uncommon plant that occurs naturally only on steep peaks SW of Townsville. It was first recognised scientifically in 1997  and its conservation status is rated ‘Vulnerable’ due to very restricted distribution.
In the wild, Dubouzetia saxatilis grows as a small shrub extending almost horizontally from steep cliffs. It is seldom seen in gardens. People have planted in-ground specimens with mixed results: some survived over years, while others suffered sudden failure. One successful specimen in a suburban garden reached 1.5 m and was about 4 years old at the time of the photo below.
A few enthusiasts have maintained healthy specimens in large pots over decades. We thank Keith for his expert advice included below.
Successful Dubouzetia saxatilis in pots flower quite frequently but don’t seem to set seed. Propagation from cuttings is feasible but source material is scarce because these plants are slow growing.
Naturally growing Dubouzetia saxatilis tend to look somewhat untidy because their older branches die back while younger, more vigorous shoots develop. With plants in pots, occasional careful pruning can help to produce a more attractive plant.
Rather than using Dubouzetia saxatilis as a single feature plant, it is more effective to place several potted plants together in a cluster which helps to provide shelter for the developing cutting-grown plants.
Keeping Dubouzetia saxatilis pots on an open-mesh raised bench (see photo below) may be beneficial as it ensures good drainage and air circulation. It also helps to keep roots cool. In contrast, some Dubouzetia saxatilis that were placed on concrete and other hard surfaces have failed, possibly because their roots were subject to excessive heat.