A GLIMPSE OF THE RAINFOREST - PART TWO

  
CLEMATIS ARISTATA
Ranunculaceae
Clematis aristata

An attractive climbing plant with opposite leaves which are divided into three moderate-sized leaflets. Clematis is frequently seen climbing just a metre or two above the ground, but may reach heights of up to 6m. The flowers are showy, being up to 5cm across and very numerous. The fruits have a long fluffy awn. The seedlings are distinctive on a shady forest floor, having a few purplish leaves with silvery markings. It's thought that this coloration confuses herbivores, and adult leaves are certainly quite green when out of reach of browsing. Flowering is in late Spring.
Germination from seed. Although Clematis is common through a range of altitudes,
and favours shady cool forests, it tolerates a wide variety of situations in the garden.
Related species: The other Tasmanian climbing species is C. mycrophylla which is restricted to sand-dunes near the north coast; this has its leaves divided into three parts which are themselves divided into three leaflets. The non-climbing C.gentianoides has similar white flowers. The introduced "old man's beard" C.vitalba is common in settled parts of Tasmania. The seed heads of this species are prominent and give rise to its name.


 
OXYLOBIUM ELLIPTICUM
Golden Rosemary
Leguminosae-Papilionatae

A spreading much-branched shrub to 2.5m with smooth branches. Leaves elliptical 1.4cm long, dark green, leathery, reticulate veins and mid-rib obvious, margins recurved. Leaf apex blunt, often with an abrupt point; lower surface brownish with short hairs. The golden-yellow pea flowers are in dense terminal clusters. Pods 7-8mm long, rounded, grey-brown covered with long silky hairs.
Flowering Spring-summer. Widespread from sea-level to 1000m, commonly found growing in wet areas on rainforest edges. Found in Tasmania, Victoria,  New South Wales, Queensland. Propagates most easily from seed, which germinate after soaking in boiling water.

Oxylobium ellipticum
Information courtesy Launceston Field Naturalists Club


 
PHYLLOCLADUS ASPLENIIFOLIUS Podocarpaceae
Celery-top Pine

A widespread endemic tree to 20 m. in wet sclerophyll forests and rainforests from sea level to 900 metres. The male flower is insignificant, but the “female” flower consists of a seed-bearing scale which becomes pink and fleshy, and the seed is surrounded by a white outgrowth from its stalk. The cladodes (meaning a flattened stem functioning as a leaf) are thick, leathery and in shape reminiscent of celery leaves. A valuable timber as it does not shrink when dried, and was sent to William Hooker at Kew (UK) by Ronald Campbell Gunn in 1844.

Phyllocladus aspleniifolius


Cultivation:   Can be propagated from seed or cuttings and is a well-shaped tree with unusual fern-like foliage, enjoying well - composted soil and ample moisture. Tas. endemic
Information courtesy Launceston Field Naturalists Club

ATHEROSPERMA MOSCHATUM                    Monimiaceae
Southern Sassafras

Atherosperma moschatum
       
Atherosperma moschatum seed           Maturing seed pods
A conical tree to 45 m with spreading, rather drooping, branches. Oil glands in the bark and leaves give a distinctive sarsparilla-like smell and taste. The bark is grey and white, smooth. Leaves ovate-lanceolate, pointed and toothed, in opposite pairs, green and shining above, the other side all white. Stalked flowers on the underside of branchlets face downwards.
Trees often unisexual, male flowers about 2 cm across with 8 white perianth members and about 12 short stamens. Female flowers smaller, less round and less showy with many hairy carpels embedded in the centre, bristly styles protruding. Sometimes both male and female flowers are on the same tree. Fruit dry - a blackish, woody knob with feathery styles protruding and gradually decaying. Bark is used for flavouring beverages, timber for craftwork.
 
Flowering time September-October. Widespread in rainforest.  Not often cultivated as it requires cool, damp conditions, but forms a handsome tree in the right site.

Sassafras is the only species in the genus Atherosperma.


PROSTANTHERA  LASIANTHOS var. LASIANTHOS        Lamiaceae
Christmas Mintbush

Prostanthera lasianthos
                                                               (Less common, blush-pink flowered form)


Small tree to 6m with dark red bark on upper limbs. Leaves opposite, large,  3 to 9 cm long, lanceolate, margins toothed. Flowers white or pale lilac, spotted with deep purple, all petals joined into a tube then becoming 2-lipped, lower lip with 3 lobes, upper lip
shorter and wider, 2-lobed.

Fruit a group of 4 nutlets surrounded by persistent 2-lobed calyx.

Flowering December-January. A very common understorey shrub in wet forests, rainforests and along river banks.

Probably best propagated from cuttings in mid autumn, which would guarantee the flower colour form.

Tas, Vic, NSW, Qld

Information courtesy of Launceston Field Naturalists Club and Tasmanian Herbarium

Prostanthera lasianthos

PART ONE               PART TWO             PART THREE             PART FOUR           PART FIVE

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