Thank you to Cameron for nominating this large shady tree as our Plant of the Month. Its abundant flowers caught his attention at Bushland Beach early in October.
Melaleuca dealbata has extra visual appeal when it puts on a flush of new growth, often around the same time as flowering. The outer layer of new leaves, each covered in a mix of erect silky hairs and short stiff hairs, gives the whole tree a beautiful silver-blue-grey sheen that is the basis of its common name Cloudy tea tree.
Several of our members made a mid-September day trip to the Burra. Unfortunately, mass flowering of Calytrix was not happening, but many other species of special interest made the outing a great success.
Outstanding plants for this Burra trip were Persoonia falcata, Grevillea parallela and Petalostylis labicheoides. The first of these was making a fine show and deemed worthy of P o M status.
Persoonia falcata is currently flowering on Castle Hill too, and can probably be seen in flower on most of the Townsville ridges.
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 its 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.