It seems a bit quite on the grassland front so I thought a few photos might get us in the mood for planning some spring walks. I realise there is a focus on plants but if anyone wants to send me some VVP fauna photos that we can use then you are more than welcome email@example.com
Last year Glengower Road in Hepburn Shire, was burnt as part of a CFA training exercise. This roadside is home to Spiny Rice‑flower, Pimelea spinescens subsp. spinescens, listed as critically endangered under the Australian Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). On Sunday it was time to see how the plants were growing after the burn and all the effort by the CFA staff and volunteers. It had been a long un-burnt site.
These are not easy plants to find unless you have a keen eye or they are flowering. The small cream-yellow flowers appear from April to August and last year after the burn only a few were visible and some were just burnt stumps. When you see these small plants it is hard to imagine that they are reportedly so long-lived (30 to 50 years and possibly up to 100 years).
This season they are looking very healthy and are flowering profusely. Their long life is down to their very large tap root which may be up to 1.5m deep and it also gives them the ability to survive fire, if it is not too frequent. Male and female plants are required for reproduction along with the right pollinators.
The spiny rice‑flower occurs in grassland habitats mostly on basalt-derived soils in south-western Victoria and sedimentary soils in north-central Victoria according to the Nationally Threatened Species and Ecological Communities EPBC Act policy statement 3.11 (2009).
Here is a video of some brolgas, a chance sighting by Lisette from the Basalt to Bay Landcare Network. She was coming back from “near Mortlake today and looking for gorse and spotted this trio using a paddock. The three farms to the south of this have participated in Landcare with us over a number of years, and there are more in either direction who do Landcare under their own steam – hence the credits directed at them. By the time I closed my window my hands matched the colour of my blue jacket, but watching this bird jumping and calling reminded me that spring is coming.”
Here is a link to the recent newsletter. Warron_Issue_23_May_2017
What are your plant identification skills like? Sometimes there are plants that look different and so your first thought is that it is a weed. Lawrencia spicata, Salt Lawrencia may look like a weed, but it is a rare native plant often associated with salt marshes. These photos were taken near the Ross Bridge Flora Reserve, south of Ararat. The reserve and roadside is mapped as Western Plains Basalt Grassland. Thanks to Frank Carland for supplying the photos.
Salt Lawrencia is a perennial herb that has tall cylindrical flower spikes with white or yellow flowers. The leaves are distinctive and have a long stalk (petiole) and it grows from a rosette. Vicflora has some close up images
The Victorian Volcanic Plain Linear Reserves Project continues to roll along and during the spring you may have seen contractors out again on the roadsides, spraying weeds. Burning every few years by brigades, has kept the native vegetation on many roadsides in good condition but in some cases when burning has not been carried out for a while the weeds have taken off. One of this project’s aims is to improve the quality of our remnant grasslands through careful targeting of high threat weeds on priority road and rail reserves. It builds on the ongoing strategic work done by the CFA burning program, by reducing weeds such as phalaris.
How do we know if this weed control works? Over the last 2 years Arthur Rylah Institute has closely monitored several of the grassland sites and reports in the latest ARI enews, that ‘the extent of weeds has been successfully reduced, without adversely affecting native species’. See this link for a brief report