Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pretty Pink Tongues

Rostellularia adscendens
Natural grasslands don’t just grow grass. They can be very rich environments. Besides containing a mixture of grasses (typically about six) they also contain dozens of small herb species, lilies, sedges, saltbushes, and so on.
This little herb is very common in our local grasslands. It has never been considered showy enough to attract the attention of gardeners, which is a pity. Besides being sweetly pretty, it is a host plant for the Meadow Argus butterfly (Junonia villida).
There are two local varieties. The one at left is an upright plant with narrower, shinier leaves (var adscendens). I photographed it west of Hampton.

On the top of the range in the snuffy red soil we find this one, a softer plant with broader, hairier leaves (var latifolia).

Pink tongues could be grown in a flower garden, but can also be naturalised in the mulch of a shrubbery.

It, and the other little grassland herbs many of which have equally delightful and dainty little flowers, are good reasons for not overdoing the lawn-mowing, particularly in “acreage” residential areas.

The butterflies will thank us for it, too.

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