Cherry ballart, wild cherry and native cherry are some of the names used for the dense, bright green tree.
It’s an unusual tree in many ways.
Its fruit, from which it gets the “cherry” part of its name, is small and red or orange in colour.
The seed of the fruit is outside the fleshy part, unlike most fruits.
It has a swollen, coloured stem, with the true seed attached to the tip of the fleshy part.
The cherry ballart is semi-parasitic, meaning it gets some of its nutrients and water from the roots of other nearby plants.
This appears to do no harm to the host. The tree also produces its own energy by photosynthesis.
Because of its semi-parasitic nature, it’s very rarely found in plant nurseries. Although it has been grown with a native grass as a host to start, before being planted with a shrub or tree as it grows.
Some references state that the cherry ballart can be somewhat toxic to stock.
Is this the case locally? Wallabies certainly enjoy the foliage, so serious toxicity to livestock seems unlikely.
This tree’s drooping foliage are actually branchlets. Its true leaves are less than a millimetre long.
Seedling leaves are very different, being narrow and flat to 10 –15mm long.
It suckers readily from the roots when these are cut, such as by road-making machinery.
This attractive tree is seldom found in quantity, but rather as scattered individuals, often growing on dry hillsides.
Locally, the foliage of the cherry ballart is used in Aboriginal smoking ceremonies, mostly with a generous amount of stringybark to provide the initial flame.
Most daisies, like most wildflowers in general, produce their flowers in spring and summer. So, the discovery of daisy flowers at the end of May was a surprise.
These were on the edge of a swamp near Clunes, and they were white flowers less than 20mm across.
Kangaroos were present in large numbers.
But they had somehow missed a few flowers.
The plant was a basalt daisy. It’s a small suckering plant that has white flowers with around 30 petals and yellow centres.
Basalt daisy is uncommon locally, mainly because of the fact that most of its natural habitat is gone.
With a stated usual flowering time of from September to January, the late May flowers were certainly later than expected.
The plant is from the brachyscome group, of which there are a dozen or more species locally.
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