Study group updates April – Dec 2023

By Verna Aslin

Acacia SG newsletter, no. 154, April 2023

A.jibberdingensis, image by Bill Aitchison

A Ph.D thesis is available which documents the nutritional value of Australian acacia seeds. They are rich sources of protein, but require processing. Practical considerations present obstacles to commercial use, but the potential is significant. Acacia acuminata, the raspberry jam wattle, is a WA species which is a bush tucker resource. An article by Nicky Zanen describes the species and reports on her success growing it. A. auriculiformis is a northern Australian wattle which has spread outside its natural distribution and is a serious weed in some overseas regions. Biological control agents are under investigation.  The NSW species A. baileyana is considered a weed in some areas of Australia. Growers however tend to regard the prostrate form as not “weedy” because it sets few seeds. Bill Aitchison made visits to Maranoa Gardens (Vic.) to log which wattles are in flower in February/early March. A. jibberdingensis (see photo) is a March flowerer.

Study group contact is acaciastudygroup@gmail.com 

Fern SG newsletter, no.154, May 2023

The FSG will be congregating in NSW this November, with the itinerary to include the Blue Mountains and the South Coast. In the meantime, both the Sydney Region and the SEQ Region have an active program of excursions and study topic activities in their areas. The newsletter reports on a fern excursion along the Morelia Track in the Manorina, D’Aguilar National Park. With 3 years of La Niña, the area is verdant and lush. A Zoom meeting previewing likely finds, encouraged many new fern fiends to join a walk along Tamborine National Park’s MacDonald Rainforest Circuit, to try out their new identification skills. Many tips on growing ferns at home were obtained by a visit to Beth and Graham McDonald’s residence to view potted specimens and a 40-year old planted rainforest. The fern family Thelipteridaceae has been revised with a number of new generic names.

Study group contact is ANPSAferns@bigpond.com

Grevillea SG newsletter no. 125, June 2023

Grevillea gaudichaudii, image supplied by Grevillea Study Group

The newsletter includes information of interest to NSW members concerning occurrence and variation in Grevillea juniperina and G. rosmarinifolia. A further article documents the grevillea species found in Sutherland Shire, totalling 9 species, 2 of them endemic. Some occur in populations which are morphologically distinct from typical forms, and these may be recognised as separate species eventually.

The well-known grevillea G. gaudichaudii was first collected in 1819 on a trip to Bathurst, and was named after its discoverer Gaudichaud-Beaupré It was later concluded to be a natural hybrid between G. laurifolia and G. acanthifolia. Other forms were collected and propagated, but the botanical form is most often encountered in horticulture.

Peter Olde offers tips for grevillea pruning and maintenance. He recommends hard pruning as a general rule, to shape and invigorate plants. Peter’s tips cover timing, shaping, weed control, fertilizing and mulching.

Study Group contact is bruce.moffatt@tpg.com.au

Hakea SG newsletter no. 82, June 2023

Winter is flowering season for many Hakeas and there has been much for growers to admire. Several garden visits in Victoria displayed Hakeas growing in a range of soil types and climate variables (from 90 – 150 species per garden). The gardens provided members with a chance to see how adaptable Hakea species can be, and encourage them to try more species. In NSW, a dozen or so Hakea species survived the 2.6m of rain which drowned Phil Trickett and Catriona Bate’s  garden at Milton. Replanting is underway including both grafted and seed-grown plants.

The newsletter provides a list of cold-tolerant species being trialled in a frosty garden at Armidale by Claire Mullins. Group leader Paul Kennedy reports on a number of species in the Hakea strumosa group. The species described are native to SA and WA.

Study Group contact is hakeaholic@gmail.com

Eremophila SG newsletter no. 140, September 2023

Eremophila decussata, image by Andrew Brown

Eremophila decussata (pictured) is the feature species. It is found near Ooldea in SA and in a couple of other locations (SA and WA). It’s a low dense shrub best planted in open sites, and is mostly grown in drier areas. There are two established hybrids, one known as “Nullarbor Nymph”, plus other probable hybrids yet to be followed up. E. decussata is a great garden plant because it has (potentially) a long flowering period but is nevertheless neat and tidy when not in flower.

Steve Cathcart reports on his garden in Tumut which boasts 20-25 Eremophila species/hybrids. Frost is the main issue although some species survive despite being Lyndal Thorburn reports on the tally of Eremophila species recorded on a recent trip to Western Queensland. Location photos are included.

Study Group contact is lthorburn@viria.com.au 

Fern SG newsletter no. 155, September 2023

A Fern Gathering has been held, including a number of excursions in coastal NSW locations. It ran from the 4th to the 7th November.

Sydney area members report on a beautiful walk in Neates Glen in July.  Fern, moss and orchid finds are illustrated, plus some beautiful location shots. The SE Qld fern group had an excursion to Cunninghams Gap also in July, finding the forest floor lush with fern growth. 29 species were recorded. In August, the Blackall Range provided a perfect outing, with no less than 10 species at the Narrows Lookout alone.

Venturing further afield, Steve Lamont reports on a range of ferns observed on a short trip to New Zealand.

Study Group contact is ANPSAferns@bigpond.com

Hakea SG newsletter, No. 83, October 2023

Paul Kennedy has been busy propagating from seed. Hakeas from warm climates are an issue in his cold area, with seedlings having to overwinter in a hot house.  Hakea pedunculata appears the hardiest of these, but Paul believes grafting is the way to go with northern species in cooler climates.

David and Linda Handscome are setting up a new 10-acre garden near Warrnambool, Vic. The climate is milder than their previous Pomonal location, but this is not altogether a good thing as rapid growth in the deep volcanic loan has meant stability problems and overcrowded garden beds. However more than 40 species of Hakea have been established successfully.

Study Group contact is hakeaholic@gmail.com

Australian Plants for Containers SG newsletter, No. 42, October 2023

Acacia binervia "Sterling Silver", image supplied by APC Study Group

Pimelea physodes, the Qualup Bell, is a magnificent plant which flowers reliably in a container in Canberra. Well-drained soil, protection from afternoon sun, and regular tip-pruning are key.

Xanthorrhea johnsonii hybrid x “Supergrass” has flowered twice in a pot in Mt Barker, S.A. It is a hybrid with amazing vigour. Hoya australis has been a success for Ian Cox of Parramatta Hills.

Group leaders Ros and Ben Walcott report on the specimens growing in pots at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. In the same city, a range of plants in containers adorns their own patios, including Acacia binervia ‘Sterling Silver’ [pictured]

Study Group contact is roswalcott5@gmail.com and benwalcott5@gmail.com 

Isopogon & Petrophile SG newsletter no. 33, November 2023

A notable point – Isopogons and Petrophiles do not produce nectar despite commercial plant labels claiming they are bird-attracting.

I.latifolius has the largest flower heads of all I & P species. Two compact forms which are currently available are “Dazzler” and “Lollypop”. In general, there has been a welcome increase in both the number and range of Isopogons & Petrophiles in nurseries. 

Member Darren Allen of Pokolbin discusses his experience propagating from cuttings and grafting using material available from the group. He finds it better to root his rootstock cuttings before grafting. An open soil mix has proved better than cocopeat plugs, and grafts succeed better out of his misting system. However cooling the propagation area with a fog setup and added shade has been beneficial.

Phil Trickett finds Isopogon “Coaldale Cracker” easy to strike, and describes his method in detail. For his grafting, he has had to move on to using Parafilm. As it is less strong than Nescofilm he cuts wider pieces than formerly – approx. 5cm -2.5cm which is then doubled over, and wound tightly around the graft.

While it was predicted that the recent wildflower season in WA would be a flop, this was not the case for all areas.  Visits to WA yielded many I & P observations, and these are documented by photographs. 

Study Group contact is isopetstudygroup@gmail.com

Grevillea SG newsletter no. 126, November 2023

Subgroups have met throughout the year, and grafting has been among the topics for discussion. Recorded in the newsletter are comments from members regarding grafting methods, choice of stock and scion material, and methods of fertilization. John Elton is collecting information for a new grafting database.

Peter Olde describes Grevillea pieroniae and a new species G. aff. acropogon which he observed on a recent trip to Western Australia. Peter also introduces some new Kings Park hybrids which are being released into the horticultural industry.

Stephen Hodge is trying to track down extant specimens of the “Poorinda” range of hybrid grevilleas developed by his grandfather Leo Hodge. “Poorinda Diadem” is one he is keenly seeking.

Malcolm Johnson of Boongala Gardens is looking for Grevillea “Jessie Cadwell”, a release from the 1980s.

Study Group contact is bruce.moffatt@tpg.com.au 

Acacia SG newsletter, No. 155, November 2023

A new species, Acacia armigera, has recently been named. It occurs near Southern Cross in Wetsern Australia and is a low, dense, rounded shrub with spiny phyllodes.

Red Rock Wattle in Victoria is a commercial plantation producing native food products including wattleseeds. Starting in 2020, 9 acacia species were planted as a trial, and an extensive harvest is expected this year.

Several new books have recently been published about acacias, or including them. “Wattles : Australian Acacia species around the world” ed. Richardson may be of interest. It explores the biology, ecology and evolution of these remarkable Australian plants.

Study Group contact is acaciastudygroup@gmail.com