Sunday, January 8, 2017

Weekend in the Mountains

The past four days have once more seen the men who have a fondness for vehicles hold their annual meeting in Canberra, and to escape the noise and burnout related smells in our suburb we headed for the mountains, as we have done several times in the past. We camped at Three Mile Dam in Kosciuszko National Park, but as I have posted about that area before I will instead focus on what we saw on our return journey through Namadgi National Park. I may post some of the other plants we saw as botany pictures though, and there were many.

This was the first time we explored Shanahan's Mountain Walking Trail, although we did not go all the way. The area appears very nutrient-poor. Trees are a bit on the stunted side, and there are many individuals from groups that appear to cope well with nutrient deficiency, such as Fabaceae with their symbiontic bacteria or Proteaceae.

Another strategy is to steal nutrients from others. The above is Exocarpos strictus (Santalaceae), a hemiparasite, meaning it taps neighbouring root systems but still does its own photosynthesis. Seen here are its developing fruits, whose pedicels (stalks) are turning fleshy and red instead of the fruit wall itself.

Our last stop was at Yankee Hat Walking Trail, but we did not have time to go as far as to the Aboriginal rock art. We turned around at Bogong Swamp, perhaps a bit less than half way. It should not be difficult to tell where the swamp is in the picture above.

On the way there were large populations of introduced Verbascum (mullein, Scrophulariaceae), the silver-green foliage standing out particularly starkly against the brownish background of likewise introduced Acetosella vulgaris (sorrel, Polygonaceae). This combination was fascinating.

Some species of Verbascum, and this one among them, have amazingly hairy leaves. In Europe there are apparently solitary bees that collect these hairs to wallpaper their nests.

While on the topic of introduced weeds, this thistle (Asteraceae) does not only show a nice play of colours but also the flowers of its flower-head still in the bud stage, each appearing as a little five-armed star.

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