Western Australia's 'wildflower region' is normally described as being the inland area north-east of Perth, known as the Mid West. Many families plan holiday trips to see the wildflowers, which is a wonderful thing to do and the carpets of pinks, whites and yellows are truly breathtaking. But often this focus on one particular part of the state takes attention away from patches of bush right here in the Perth Hills with just as much wildflower diversity.
Lately I've been noticing the various local understorey plants come into bloom. In the Jarrah forest at the moment you can see carpets of the pea flower Bossaiea pulchella, commonly known as 'Bacon-and-Eggs'. These gorgeous yellow decorations bring the forest floor to life, and have beautifully detailed petals when viewed up close.
|The colours of pea flowers like this Bossiaea give rise to the common name 'Bacon-and-Eggs'|
Another pea flower, but one whose owner makes a living creeping over shrubs and climbing up trees (what a great way to live!), is the Native Wisteria (Hardenbergia comptoniana). This plant really becomes visible when its vivid purple blossoms burst open. It is often surprising to spot them high up in the canopy and suddenly notice the vine's stem winding its way down tree-trunks and through foliage back to its source on the ground.
An even smaller plant but one whose cream-coloured and very delicate blooms (about 2 cm long) stand out amongst the leafy forest floor is the Catkin Grevillea (Grevillea synapheae). The 'flower' one sees is actually a collection of flowers (an 'inflorescence') which grow in an arrangement known as a 'raceme' - a long cluster with separate flowers attached by short stalks.
|Catkin Grevillea flowers have beautiful detail when viewed under macro.|
Having a sharp macro lens allows one to photograph then observe features otherwise invisible to the human eye, like the grevillea petals shown above. If you spend enough time with such a lens, you begin to look for photography subjects that you know will reveal hidden details once enlarged. With this in mind, I decided to snap some pictures of a tiny Sundew (Drosera sp., probably D. stolonifera) with a very pretty leaf arrangement (below left). The beautiful sticky beads of mucilage (a sticky, sugary substance), which are used to capture insects that cater for the plants' nitrogen requirements, are clearly visible. I also noticed a Clustered Heath (Leucopogon capitellatus) plant, a species which has minute flowers (below right). When enlarged, the flower's tiny bearded petals are visible, and the genus name Leucopogon then makes sense: it comes from two Greek words: leucos = white; pogon = bearded. Click these images to see the details even more clearly.
When walking on gravelly ground in more open parts of the forest, it's hard to miss the stunning arrangements of conspicuous yellow flowers in the genus Hibbertia, known as buttercups. The most common species is the Yellow Buttercup (H. hypericoides), whose flowers are arranged in beautiful, dense layers across the shrub.
|Yellow Buttercup is one of the most common wildflowers in the bushland near Mundaring.|
The aptly (some might say state-the-bl**dy-obviously!!) named Large Buttercup (H. lasiopus) has fewer flowers but compensates with the sheer size of its blooms. This plant has a very prostrate growth habit, and its scientific name is derived from it having a hairy seed pod (lasio = hairy; pus = foot).
All these species were observed in just a 15 minute walk around a local Mundaring Shire bush reserve. You can view more photos of local Jarrah and Marri forest wildflowers on my Flickr Photostream here. As the weather warms and we head into Kambarang (spring) over the coming months, keep your eyes out in your local patch of bushland. What flowers do you have blooming near you?