Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spear Lilies

 Doryanthes palmeri

The Spear Lilies growing on Mt Cordeaux are one of the natural wonders of our district - and the time to see them is now.

Hundreds of these spectacular plants , with their “spears” of bright red flowers, spread down the eastern escarpment. Growing with them are grasstrees, Xanthorrhoea glauca.

   Following the path on  the western side, we can get up close and personal with the huge flowerheads, which are often more than a metre long.

Butterflies and  European honeybees were attracted to them. The butterflies would be attracted by the red, as they are some of the very few insects that can see that colour. It would be interesting to know just what the honeybees can see. They were certainly guzzling on the nectar, fighting over the newly opened flowers.

Birds can see red very well, and it is often the case that big red flowers are designed to attract them as pollinators.

Yesterday a group of these Lewin’s honeyeaters were taking advantage of the nectar flow. There was quite a party atmosphere as they socialised, flirted, and flew back and forth between the lilies and the overhanging trees.

Mt Cordeaux is about an hour’s drive from Toowoomba. Heading east on the Cunningham’s Gap Road, it is the mountain on its left-hand side, just before the road heads down the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range. Access is from a small carpark in the Gap.


J Gray said...

These are beautiful images! The one with the Lewins Honeyeater is spectacular, and really showcases how massive these flowers must be!

Patricia Gardner said...

Nice to hear from you again!
Yes, the lilies are truly magnificent. You must get down to Mt Cordeaux in the season next year, to see them. They really are spectacular.
Meanwhile, there are getting to be more of them around town, as people who appreciate natives are putting them into their gardens. You can also see them (and their southern cousins, the Gymea lilies) in Peacehaven Botanic Park at Highfields.
Their nursery is a good place to source the plants. They open on Thursday and Saturday mornings, and can order them for you if they don't have them on the shelf.
I think you could grow them on your soil, though shelter from frost might be an issue. They only need a small frost-free area.
Do you walk around early on frosty mornings looking for these frost-free patches? Winter is a good time to plan your plantings, and even in the toughest gardens there are usually little frost-free microclimates in the shelter of buildings and plants.