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.
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.