Thursday, 8 October 2009

The Season of Petyan, in Gariwerd

That’s it for Gariwerd, or the Grampians, in the local season of ‘petyan’ (close to my sprummer). Tomorrow it’s off to more goldfields country, in Castlemaine, but for socialising rather than botanising. I’ll ease off on the blogging too!

I thought I’d leave with a view from Mount William, a Gang Gang Cockatoo we saw there, and the State Floral Emblem, Epacris impressa. Lynda tells me that the name ‘impressa’ refers to the dimples at the base of the flora tube – clearly visible in this picture. Sounds good to me.

So to Gariwerd. The Jardwadjali and Djab Warrung people have lived in this area for thousands of years and I gather both recognised six seasons. Each season is about two months long, responding to changes in the activities of local animals and plants. Nesting birds, yam harvesting, butterflies, eel hunting, honey bees and cockatoos are important indicators.

I was thrilled to see an early spring, ‘larneuk’, starting in late July and running through to August. Although defined as the season of nesting birds, wattle and orchid flowering is mentioned as characteristic. While I like an August-September ‘early spring’ (sprinter) this is exactly the kind of environmental change we should be reflecting in what ever seasonal system we decide to follow.

There are plenty of plant indicators in Gariwerd. About 970 species of plant grow and flower here, of which 20 grow no where else. The spring wildflowers are justly famous. At the moment swathes of Calytrix, Micromyrtus and Thryptomene mark the roadsides.

And did I mention orchids? I’m not sure how many there are in the Grampians, but well over 100 species, all of them terrestrial (or ground) orchids. We saw plenty more today, including fields of the pretty spider orchid Caladenia versicolor, and what ever green comb they were cohabitating with. Donkey orchids (Diuris) are everywhere, with a new record for the trip, Diuris orientis, spotted a few times.

I’ll close with a picture of this species, commonly called the Wallflower Orchid, and previously known as Diuris corymbosa. Like many orchids, its name has changed to reflect our increase in knowledge about these plants. Sometimes the changes are informative and robust, other times less so. In any case, this orchid is widespread in south-eastern Australia, and like many of the donkey orchids looks so coy with its legs (lateral sepals) crossed.

1 comment:

Tim Entwisle said...

And thanks Steve Barlett for pointing out that my identification of the Cockatoo as Major Mitchell rather than Gang Gang in early version of this posting was due to over excitement at being near the Mitchell Plateau... It is of couse a Gang Gang. Lucky I'm a botanist! All corrected now.