distinguished from other banksias by the shape of its dark green leaves with a ‘silvery’ white
under-surface. They can grow up to 6m trees in
the more fertile soils.
Scrub She-Oak (Allocasuarina paludosa) Take notice because there is a similar plant later in the walk. At first glance the ‘leaves’ look like pine needs. Upon a closer inspection you will see the needles are really branchlets (cladodes), and each of the joints is really a ring of leaves that are reduced to scales.
A hand lens is handy to see this clearly.
VioletHoney-myrtle (Melaleucawilsonii) This spreading, low growing moisture loving shrub may get three metres tall in other parts of the park with richer soils. Bright lilac flowers appear in late spring and summer.
The melaleucagenus name is derived from the Greek words ‘melos’ meaning black and ‘leukos’, white. Apparently the first trees recorded by botanists had been burnt and their trunks were black and white.
Loose sandy soil gives way to clay rich soils along here. Can you notice? If not, look closely at the plant varieties! The most dominant tree here is Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus
leucoxylon). It has a different smooth bark texture to Desert Stringybark and the fruit and leaf shape are also different to the Desert Stringybark.
These larger trees provide very important open hollows for animals such as bats, lizards, parrots, possums and sugar gliders to shelter, nest or hide in.
Thisisa good place to bird-watch after rain. Thesedepressionsin frontofyou were made when the claysoilswerequarriedfor road constructionyearsago.
Called ‘Porcupine’ grass Triodia irritans is aptly named. You will understand why smaller animals like skinks, insects and small birds, like living within the safe protection of these tussocks. Small native mammals, reptiles, birds and insects live here. Can you see any animal tracks?
Weeping YellowGums are not common. There is an example of a partly weeping specimen twenty metres behind the peg.
Tassel Rope-rush (Hypolaena fastigiata) Mat rush, sedge, spear grass and numerous other small plants, form important groups of ground cover and make up much of the understorey cover protecting the parks small wildlife.
p a r k n o t e s
For more information call the ParksVictoriaInformationCentre
on 131963 or visit our website at www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
MalleeHoney-myrtle (Melaleuca acuminate) Pale yellow flowers appearing in late spring/early summer. Its leaves narrow to a fine point, and are described as ‘acuminate’. The Latin work ‘acus’ means needle.
Lookcarefullyon thesandytrackfor interesting marksin thesand that maybetracksformed by slithering, walking,hopping, crawlinganimals.
YellowGums indicate a change in soil type again. Everything you see above the ground is in relationship with the ground beneath it.
Can you notice other plants that occur mainly with these trees? TIP:Lookforthe
brightredandyellow bellsof the Common Correa (Correa reflexa)
Brush Heaths (Brachyloma ericoides) Small low growing and one of the parks most common plants. They attracts many nectar feeding birds and insects. The subtle pink flowers make the plant more obvious in winter.
Desertor Flexile Hakea (Hakea muelleriana) Flowering in late spring this spiky and tattered
woody seed capsules that protect the seed safely inside from
wildfire. It generally only opens
up to shed its seed after fire or severe drought.
Stringybark Walklooptrackreturnsto the rightat thisintersection. Continue leftfor a furthertwo loopoptionsifyouhave time.
The GreyMulga (Acacia brachybotrya) wattle grows between two and three metres high. Look again. Its leaves are not leaves at all! Wattles have adapted to hot dry conditions by flattening their leaf stalks to appear as leaves. Called ‘phyllodes’ they are grey-green stiff and hairy. The gold, fluffy flowers are ball shaped and appear in spring, leaving many seeds for insects and birds in the following months.
Daphne Heath (Brachyloma daphnoides) is widespread in the park and this small low plant has white tubular flowers in spring. Its specific name ‘daphnoides’ means ‘like daphne’.
Native pine trees. (Callitrisrhomboidea) Distinguished by the shape of their spiky cones they are different from the other two smoother cone species of cypress pine
seedlings can be seen replacing the old dead tree. Woody seed
cones are an important source of food for parrots and ants.
Sweet Bursaria (Bursariaspinosa)
Sweet Bursaria varies in form from a woody shrub, to a small tree and occurs across Victoria.
It has cream/white fragrant flowers. ‘Bursa’ means ‘purse’, and refers to the shape of the plants seed pods.
Dwarf She-Oak (Allocasuarinapusilla) Look carefully. Two kinds of She-Oak are growing here. The Scrub She-Oak
from Stop 3 and the Dwarf She-Oak with bluish tinge to the foliage and the
cladodes (finer leaf-teeth).
SilkyTea-tree (Leptospermummyrsinoides), at the peg, is found in sandy heathlands throughout Victoria. The fruits of this plant are food for the Silky Desert Mouse – a small native mammal common in the Park.
Desert Banksia (Banksiaornata)
Tough, hard saw-toothed leaves are characteristic of this plant along with its lemon coloured winter flowers.
A bushland supermarket special - highly popular!
The sharp eye may notice a variety of spring flowering native orchids. Their specialised roots systems sustain them through long dry periods. The leaves may only be present in winter and spring. Most of these grow less than 30cm tall.
Spring Orchids listed left to right: Greenhood, Spider Orchid, Pink Fingers and Sun Orchid.
The Little Desert National Park is home to the Lowan or Malleefowl. Pressures from land clearing, fox predation, chemicals and frequency
of wildfire threaten their survival.
The Little Desert and its surrounding
bushland areas is the last hope for the Malleefowls survival in the Wimmera.
The Little Desert National Park is an excellent example, and a direct result of regional communities fighting to protect, conserve and balance their agricultural and conservation practices. Local people fought successfully to ensure a healthy legacy for future generations.
Plant drawings from L.Costermans,Native Trees and Shrubs of S.E Australia.