Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Is Cullen tenax seed edible?

I was asked this question after my post on Cullen species,

None of my bushfood books mention it, but I found several internet references to recipes for using the seeds in cooking (a cake, and biscuits).

I could find no references to aboriginal use of it, or to any testing having been done to establish the safety of eating the seeds.

I am aware that enthusiasm for bushfoods has led to some experimentation with foods that may not be safe to eat, so would not suggest that anyone do it, without having some further knowledge.

Can anyone help us here?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Devil’s Marbles

Eremophila debilis

Down south, this plant is known as Winter Apple - and that’s when it usually fruits.

However, like so many of our local native plants, Devil's Marbles is an opportunist. By means mysterious, it decides when its chance of producing a new generation is at its best, and this year it has chosen February. I would love to think that it "knows" rain is coming!

For those who would like to grow this useful and hardy ground cover plant, now is a good time to look for fruits on your properties and on roadsides.

The best technique is to plant one seed per small tube, in good-quality potting mix. Cover it to a depth equal to the diameter of the seed, and keep it damp until it germinates.  Some people say they have good results if the flesh is left on the seed, but I prefer to remove it. You can do this by sucking your seed clean. This is regarded as a bush tucker plant, and is quite safe. I leave it to you to decide whether you like the flavour, which I find quite acceptable (if unexciting) provided the fruit is very ripe.

Once the plants have reached a good size, they are can be planted straight into the garden.

To find a more detailed article about this plant, use the white Search box at top left.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Desert Jasmine

Jasminum didymum subsp lineare (Jasminum lineare)

Despite its name, this is a plant we see on the black soil of the Darling Downs. As the name suggests, it is very drought hardy indeed.

It can be distinguished by its triple leaves from Sweet Jasmine, Jasminum dianthifolium, a plant whose simple leaves look much the same. Sweet Jasmine is a low-growing plant that spreads by underground stems.

Desert Jasmine is a variable plant. In full sun, it grows as a shrub about 60cm tall.

If it finds itself close to suitable support, however, its stems will take to twining, and it becomes a small shrubby climber. This means that it may not grow quite as you expected.

If a shrub is what you want, a bit of discipline with the secateurs can keep it in order if it shows signs of turning into a climber. Otherwise it can be left to express its own creative nature among garden shrubs, on a trellis, or in revegetation or wildlife corridor planting.

Desert jasmine is a delight in the garden, because the tiny flowers have a strong jasmine fragrance.  Like all native jasmines, they attract native bees and other small insects.

The little soft black fruits are very appealing to birds.

Its favourite sites are those which provide it with partial shade.

It is frost hardy.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Triangular Clubrush

Schoenoplectiella mucronata (Schoenoplectus mucronatus, Scirpus mucronatus)

This small species of perennial rush can’t be mistaken for any other plant. It has distinctive yellow-green triangular stems, each ornamented in summer with a neat cluster of golden-brown cone-like “clubs” about 2 cm from the stem-tips. (They resemble posies, and look like something that might be carried by a bridesmaid with attitude!)

The plant is worth growing if for no other reason than for use in floral arrangements.

Shown here in a bird bath, it is easily grown in any small container which holds water. It grows rather fast, so a pot of it is best refreshed each spring by having three quarters of the plant, and its rather dense root ball, removed and replaced with fresh soil or potting mix.

In a pond or dam, triangular club-rushes form a low thicket which grows from the water’s edge to the point where the water is too deep for them, which is at approximately 30cm. They will survive deeper water provide it is temporary, such as in a flood.

It also tolerates some drying out (as shown here at Cressbrook Dam) but probably needs good wet soil not far below the surface.

In creeks, it will only grow where there is permanent water, which must be either still or slow-flowing.

Triangular clubrush is a frog-favourite, and particularly useful for small garden ponds in wildlife friendly gardens.

This is one of the few shade-tolerant rushes. It can survive in full shade provided it is well lit (though it does tend to get leggy), and is equally happy in full sun.

It is also frost hardy.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Silver-leafed Ironbark.

Eucalyptus melanophloia

This tree is now in flower at Federation Park in Drayton Connection Road. The photo shows its masses of small, nectar-laden flowers, and its unusual leaf habit.

Unlike most other (and all other local) Australian Eucalyptus species, adult trees have opposite leaves rather than alternate ones. You can see that the leaves are also “sessile” (which means that they have no stems).

This is one of our prettiest local eucalypts, as well as possibly the smallest. It has been known to grow to 20metres high, but in our district we usually see it as a smaller tree, growing no higher than 10 metres.

It is one of the most suitable for gardens. Besides being relatively small, it is a tidy tree, as gumtrees go. Like most ironbarks it is reliable about not dropping large limbs.

Its flowers are rather small, but produce a reliable nectar flow, which makes it a good honey tree.

It has a reputation for being very resistant to the stresses of being used as a cattle camp. Some Eucalypts die younger than they should, unable to cope with many years of soil compaction resulting from heavy use of their root zones by large heavy hoofed animals, and the over-fertilisation of those nice shady areas under trees where stock rest (and excrete) on hot days.

This sturdy tree is ideal for planting in pastures and in paddock-edge planting strips intended as windbreaks or wildlife corridors.

In the wild, it tends to grow on ridges and slopes because it likes at least moderately good drainage. It is happy to grow on most local soil types including black soil, although it doesn’t like the very heavy black soil of the plains.

It is very hardy to drought, and testing has established that it tolerates frost to at least -5°.