Category Archives: Flora for fauna

Flora for Fauna- Plant of The Month of March (Loving our “Lolly bush”)

IMG_0364 (Medium)There are so many wonderful plants fruiting and flowering at the moment in The Top End with abundant food for fauna that it is hard to choose just one, but here is one that I have observed many birds eating and is truly beautiful to the human eye, as it looks like a love heart, and also can be eaten by humans. I have seen it on Land for Wildlife blocks in creeks at Humpty Doo, Bees Creek, Noonamah and on the Blackmore River too.

Cyclophyllum shultzii, also known as “Lolly Bush” and formerly Canthium lucidum is in the family Rubiaceae and a great local native and source of food for fauna.

It is a small thin tree or shrub that is found along rivers, in spring fed rainforest and in wetter areas, but is also popular as a wildlife attracting plant in gardens.

It has opposite leaves and tiny white and yellow flowers, these are loved by an array of insects and slowly form into  little love-heart red juicy fruits in January to March. These are loved by a huge array of birds including Bower birds, Dollar birds,  Honey Eaters, Rainbow Lorikeets and I am sure many more. Black-footed tree rats and other small mammals and even larger lizards would love these fruit too.

I have not managed to capture a bird in action, but here is the wonderful fruit itself, which have 2 little seeds that are in each half of the heart. IMG_0558 (Medium)

We love this plant and so does wildlife..

IMG_0033 (Medium)

You can propagate these plants fairly easily by seed and often small seedlings are found under the tree that have been dropped by birds. The leaves can yellow off a little if they get too much sun or dry out.

Emma, Land for Wildlife Coordinator

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Flora for Fauna- plant of the month

(Chrysopogon- Late February)

Chryso abstractThis season (and always) our theme is connectivity. As we all know everything is interconnected in this world. If you are a landholder this connectivity relates to landholders next door and their land use and your relationship with them. It also ranges from creating wildlife corridors to the ecology of a landscape and how each species is reliant on others in a complex web, including humans (although many forget this!).

At Greening Australia we often focus on plants, and this is in many instances the basis of food for many fauna species. Plants themselves are interconnected, with research highlighting that plants communicate with one another and are more interactive than we may think.

In our theme of interconnectedness, we have decided to feature a flora for fauna, to raise awareness that plants and animals and their interactions are of amazing importance.

February seemed to slip by pretty quickly, with its lack of days- but this Plant is the late February to early March feature. The landscape is absolutely full of beautiful flowering grasses, so we have chosen a  grass, which often are over looked or unwanted by landholders. This may be so they can see the country and somehow feel safer or because they may hold snakes, or often grasses are mistaken as weeds, but grasses are incredibly important habitat and food for a huge array of species.

This is Chrysopogon fallax and is flowering crazily in our (savannah) woodland landscapes right now. The flowers are loved by a huge variety of insects including our native bee (Trigonia melipes) pictured  here collecting pollen from the flowers,  which I captured just the other day on a Land for Wildlife Assessment in Tumbling Waters.

Chrysopogon fallax native bee

The finches love any grass seed heads, including those that form on the Chrysopogon. Small rodents such as Grassland Melomys would also use these seeds as food and probably many parrots such as red wing and even red tail black cockatoo after fires when the roasted seeds are on ground.

Chrysopogon fallax native bee 2Small grass nesting birds such as finches and wrens  use the plants for nesting. Some butterfly larvae also feed on grasses. Reptiles and probably bandicoots would use tussocks for shelter too.

Chrysopogon falax

The grass to tree ratio is the fundamental balance in our Savannah Woodlands and as fire changes this, so does the ecology of all those species dependent on either grasses or other non-grass species such as shrubs and trees.

Chrysopogon 2

If you have any photos of wildlife getting amongst our fabulous grasses, let us know.