Monday, September 23, 2013

A field trip to Barren Grounds (photo intensive post)–Part 1

Barren Grounds Map

Barren Grounds is a nature reserve about halfway between Sydney and Canberra. If someone asked me for an easy place to see carnivorous plants near Sydney, I would direct them here. It is unique in every sense of the word. Ecologically, it is an area of sedge peat heathland at an altitude of 550-600 metres (1800 feet) on a plateau that drops away on breathtaking escarpments nearly to sea level. Here is a view from the escarpment, looking northeast to Port Kembla-Wollongong and the Pacific Ocean:


The gorges formed along the escarpment are cool rainforests. The combination of wet heath and rainforest makes it a birdwatching paradise. I was fortunate to visit here with a birdwatching colleague a week or so back and got a real treat, both in terms of birds and, of course, carnivorous plants.

A field trip to Barren Grounds Nature Reserve–Part 2

Click here to see Part 1, which covers basic info. about Barren Grounds and Drosera pygmaea.

Click here to see Part 3, which covers Drosera binata, Sphagnum and general wildlife.

Drosera peltata


Sunday, September 22, 2013

A field trip to Barren Grounds Nature Reserve –Part 3

(In Part 1, we covered Drosera pygmaea, while in Part 2 we looked at two forms of D. peltata and D. spathulata).

We were up to D. spathulata at Barren Grounds. And growing right next to it in some places is the biggest CP you will find that is native to the Sydney Basin:


Finally! Spring!

Collection_top view

Its official (at least according to the Sarracenia flava) – Spring has arrived! The Sarracenia are busy putting up flower stalks that should be open en masse within a week or so.

2013 first flower

There is always a first flower, and this year’s first was a Sarracenia flava var. flava clone I brought at the 2008 ICPS conference in Canberra, as a division from the Royal Sydney Botanic Garden’s collection. Its petals are nearly fully unfurled, and it should be in fine form in another couple of days.

Collection view 2Collection view 3

Here are a couple of more views of the collection (click to enlarge). As you can see, we are busy with some renovation work…

Drosera burmannii

Its not just the Sarracenia that are up and growing again. I have hundreds of Drosera seedlings coming up throughout the collection. Some of them, like these Drosera burmannii, are supposed to be tropical-subtropical plants, but it can grow in cold places that get regular frost (eg. Tenterfield in northern NSW). If you get enough of a founding population established and flowering, there will be enough to come up and sustain the population. These are an independent collection of the Beerwah clone, plants the came up via blown seeds in the collection of Fly Free Zone, who incidentally, were located at Beerwah. Although Beerwah is subtropical, it sits at the base of the famed Glasshouse Mountains, and receives enough cold that there are a few days of frost each year. This clone manages alright with our much colder winters without protection, so it is probably worth a try in areas with cold winters.

filiformis filiformis tracyiifiliformis red form

My Drosera filiformis are also unfurling after their dormancy. I grow both subspecies of Drosera filiformis (left photo; tracyii are in the second pot from left)and the red form of the nominate subspecies (right photo). I love D. filiformis because they form dense clumps over time and put on a magnificent display. The red form is spectacular for its colour, but the source clone (ex Living Traps – and no, I don’t know Geoff Roberts or where he is now!) is a little temperamental. Fortunately, it self pollinates and seeds prolificaly. Even though I had the plant flower only once last year due to fertiliser problems (they don’t like it!), I had a few seedlings come up last year and these seem to be a bit more vigorous than the parent plant. I am hoping the most vigorous seedling from last season will flower for me and spread itself throughout the collection.

Drosera binata            Drosera binata Cephalotus Nepenthes

And here are some natives. This Drosera binata is the form that occurs widely in the escarpments of the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra around Sydney. It has a golden colour that becomes deep maroon over the heat of summer. The plants growing with the Cephalotus (also not my sole Nepenthes, a N. khasiana cross) our sunroom are much more advanced than the outdoor plants. I recently saw large numbers of this clone at the Barren Grounds reserve (trip report coming up; for the birders out there, I scored a male southern emu wren on my first try! It is a seriously skulky little bird whose ecological role could be described as a mouse with wings).

Drosera auriculata

And to close, here is a Drosera auriculata from the Grampian Mountains, Victoria. This plant originated from a clone grown by the VCPS. It is hardy enough to survive our winters, but has never grown as big as they were when I got them. It is just about to put up some flowers. In contrast, the allied Drosera peltata at Barren Grounds were finishing up flowering as of last week:

Drosera peltata Barren Grounds corrected

More to come soon…