Friday, June 13, 2008

Irongate Environmental Reserve

I visited this reserve, which is between Pittsworth and Mt Tyson, last week and was delighted with the mee-meei (Pittosporum angustifolium/phylliraeoides) which were heavily in fruit.
The mee-meei at this site are the best of any I’ve seen, with large brilliantly coloured capsules, the colour of a really good ripe apricot, both inside and out. They were just beginning to open and reveal the deep red, sticky seeds inside. Do click on the photo for a really good look at its lovely details.
Irongate reserve is a good example of the dry rainforest / vine scrub vegetation typical of the black soil slopes west of the dividing range. Many of the plants are labelled, and they include the native ebony, (Diospyros humilis).

There was also a good population of the heavy vine called gargaloo (Parsonsia eucalyptophylla), which would make the reserve well worth a visit in summer when this plant is in flower. It is the showiest of the Parsonsias, having masses of highly perfumed white flowers. The insects which they attract - and the birds which THEY attract - are something else to attract us to this valuable reserve.
I love the beautiful trunks on old specimens. (Photo below)

Here it is growing on the stump of an old, dead bumble tree (Capparis mitchellii).
Mature bumble trees with their large edible fruits that smell like rotten oranges when ripe, are also common in the reserve and attract clouds of butterflies in spring and summer.

Also worth seeing are the Hovea longipes, which are common there. This species is a much more substantial woody shrub than we usually expect a Hovea to be. It produces its deep purple pea-flowers sometime between August and October, and is a good ornamental species to grow in blacksoil gardens.

Irongate Reserve is remarkably weed-free.
We need to protect our relatively uninvaded bits of bush - not just because they are the areas that give our native plants the best chance, but because they are reasonably easy to restore to their pristine state. Far better to begin caring for these areas when infestation is sparse, than to wait until they get to a state where a “friends” group has to spend enormous long hours on what, in many of our local “bushland” areas, may well be a hopeless task.
I was sorry to see a few plants of the horrible introduced blackthorn there. It’s such a nasty weed.
There was also a small amount of mother-of-millions. Our little group weeded out the bits we saw, which was an easy, one-plastic-bag sized task. No doubt more will come up from seed, though. If you go there, could you carry a plastic bag with you and spend five minutes doing the same?
Go to Mt Tyson, and head west out the main street. Near the property called Adora Downs the road makes a right-angled turn to the left (south). Follow this until it hits a T-intersection. Turn left, and in about 200 metres you see the Irongate Hall on the left. Turn right (south) almost immediately after that, and follow the road )which makes a bend to the left) for something like 3.5k until you come across the reserve on your right. Keep your eye out for the iron gate that marks the place.


Mick said...

I love the dry western scrubs. A friend and I went out to moonie a few weeks back and spent two days in the brigalow around Southwood Nat park. It was remarkable. And we found the biggets Kurrajong I have ever seen. Perhaps 30m across the drip line at the widest part and a trunk two men could not wrap their arms around.

Patricia Gardner said...

That is reamrkable! I think there must once have been more large ones than we see now, though, Mick. The graziers' habit of cutting them down for cattle fodder in droughts has wiped out a lot of them.