Another plant of significance has been discovered in Ballarat’s Victoria Park.
It is the matted flax-lily, a native plant that is regarded as rare and endangered.
Like most lilies, it has six petal-like parts to its flower. The three true petals are a deeper blue, while the three similar-looking sepals are paler.
It is the orange bases of the anthers that catch the eye. These, and the two shades of blue, are no doubt the reason why the plant is known to botanists as Dianella amoena, with amoena meaning charming or lovely in Latin.
Matted flax-lily is a rhizomatous plant, meaning that it suckers underground. Patches in Victoria Park are three and four metres across. Its leaves are always erect, rather than horizontal or matting on top of the ground.
The recent discovery was made at the end of December, when the plants were flowering. The plants are relatively small – with stems mostly shorter than 300 millimetres – and the flowers are about 20mm wide. Each flower appears to last only one day.
Perhaps a reason that the plant has not been discovered sooner than 2018 is the fact that it is thought to respond to fire. Most of the sites where it is now flowering were burnt last autumn.
Another possible reason for its non-discovery until now, is that it flowers during summer, when fewer people are enjoying the flowers and plants of Victoria Park. The flowers are often finished by mid-afternoon.
Our most common local flax-lily is the black-anther flax-lily. It has black or brown-tipped anthers without the bright orange, and its leaves are longer and different-shaped.
The matted flax-lily was once known at Alfredton’s golf course area. Other known local sites are Elaine, Morrisons and Springdallah. It is mostly found in native grassland and grassy woodland. Most populations are in insecure locations such as roadsides and rail reserves. There are thought to be only a few thousand plants in the wild state-wide.
Searches this week have discovered nearly 20 patches of this rare plant being discovered in Victoria Park - a significant population of this attractive lily.
LISTING THE BIRDS
A useful and pleasant project for naturalists is the keeping of a monthly bird list. This will reveal changes in numbers and species throughout the year. Choose a favourite local spot or district which can be easily visited. Your bird knowledge and skill will increase as the year progresses.
Lake Wendouree would be a very suitable place for this activity, with its wide variety of waterbirds and bushbirds changing with the seasons.