Springtime is wattle time, but there is one summer-flowering wattle in the Ballarat district - the lightwood, or Acacia implexa, a medium-sized wattle tree.
The photo shows an attractive spray of lightwood flowers taken earlier this week at Illabarook, where soils are basalt-based.
At Mt Beckworth the lightwood grows on granite and does not seem to grow within 25 kilometres of Ballarat, preferring slightly milder, lower-rainfall and lower-altitude places than Ballarat proper.
The lightwood and the blackwood are often confused. The blackwood is larger, with wider, straighter leaves, and it only flowers in spring. It is much more common and widespread than the lightwood. Unfortunately, it is often wrongly known as lightwood.
The flowers of the lightwood start in about mid-December and go through in some places to March, so there is never any overlap with the blackwood.
January is the lightwood’s main month and the flowers are paler than those of many wattles, being a creamy-yellow, more than a bright lemon-yellow.
There is some variation in the lightwood’s leaf shape. They are often distinctly curved (sickle-shaped), which assists identification, but this is not always the case.
Sometimes the leaves (actually ‘phyllodes’) look very much like those of the blackwood.
Despite the names, lightwood’s timber is similar in appearance to blackwood, so the origin of the name ‘lightwood’ is a mystery.
Other local places at which it is known include Campbelltown, Rokewood, Dereel and Pittong.
There are several families of local butterflies - the whites and yellows, the browns and nymphs, the swallowtails, the skippers and the blues.
Recently discovered at Napoleons was the broad-margined azure, or olane azure. A member of the blue family, it is a rarity in the Ballarat district.
With a wingspan of around 35 millimetres, it is smaller than the common, well-known cabbage white.
Each of its four upper wings has a patch of bluish-purple in its centre. These are edged with dull dark brown. Folded wings are camouflaged grey and brown.
Butterfly distribution is very much governed by food plants for the caterpillars, and this is the case with the broad-margined azure.
It needs mistletoes as the adults spend most of their time around mistletoes in the treetops.
The unexpected Napoleons specimen was discovered when it came low to sip at a recently-watered garden.