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This is your forum and your chance to raise any issue about growing, propagating or appreciating Australian plants, about the Society and its activities, about conservation issues. You can even "flame" the editor if you feel you must......

Arid Lands

I am announcing your new newsletter in the April issue of the International Arid Lands Consortium newsletter (IALC home page URL: http://ag.arizona.edu/OALS/IALC/Home.html) and if you do continue publishing will most likely make it a hot link from the IALC home page, too. It looks like a terrific effort! Hope you decide to keep doing this! (By the way, the April issue of the newsletter should be up by the end of the day April 2, of course that's probably April 3 already for you.)

Katherine Waser,
Office of Arid Lands Studies,
University of Arizona

Thanks for the kind words, Katherine. The newsletter makes interesting reading for anyone interested in environmental issues in dry climates.

I am fairly confident that publication of "Australian Plants online" will continue until the end of 1997 at least. The whole issue of SGAP and the Internet comes up for debate then but I would be surprised if the Society decided to cease an on-line presence.

Southern?? Perhaps? Perhaps Not!


I'd like to subscribe to your excellent online newsletter, but your server refused the connection when I used the form on Netscape. So here's an e-mail.


Michael Mace,

PS: Santa Cruz is not in southern California. Saying so is about like saying Melbourne is a suburb of Sydney (and the locals will have the same reaction).

God...I hope not. I don't look my best in tar and feathers!

Well...every newsletter should have a deliberate mistake just to find out if the readers are paying attention. So, would you believe that this was the deliberate mistake?....Oh.

Well, in my defence let me say that I have in front of me a map of the western United States and I'm looking at California. I've just extrapolated the northern and southern borders of that state in a westerly direction, found the mid point between those lines and drawn another line back east towards the pacific coast (yes I know I shouldn't deface a reference book, but reputations are at stake here!). Now, let me see....where's Santa Cruz. Oh, there it is.....south of the line!

Now I'm tempted to say "nyaa nyaa na nyaa nyaaa" but that would be childish.....Oh what the hell; nyaa nyaa na nyaa nyaaa!

All that this shows is that it's possible to prove anything provided you define your starting conditions creatively! It did take several goes before I came up with a way to divide California in a manner which suited my purpose and at one point I thought it might be necessary to deprive Oregon of a significant slice of territory........

Anyway...I accept that by any reasonable definition, Santa Cruz is closer to Oregon than Mexico. Santa Cruzians (is that a word?), please accept my apologies for this blunder.

Photos Please!

I am interested in photos of oze plants to see what plants I could use BIG & small in my garden. I need to convince the missus that there are good Australian natives that can be used as bright ornamental garden plants.

Julian Taylor

By the end of June 1996 there should be about 30 photographs on line (at the date of issue of this newsletter there are 21 photographs on line). All of the photos are accessible through the "Photo Gallery" on the SGAP Home Page. We will be adding to the gallery as time goes on.

The "Photo Gallery" also includes a basic distribution map for each species as well as a short description of the features of each plant.

I hope this makes the task of convincing the missus a bit easier!


I was very impressed by the first issue. The graphics, photographs, articles were all very informative. Keep up the very good work!

Robert Childs

Thanks, Robert. We'll try!!

Not everyone is going to be interested in every article we publish but I hope we can at least give all of our readers something of interest each time. Of course, we don't commission articles and we will eventually need to rely on readers to contribute if the newsletter is to have a long term viability.

Happy Wandering

I attend the University of Texas at Austin. I am currently taking an entry level Botany course. We are doing poster reports on plants. I selected mine from a local nursery, signed up to report on it and then found out it is native to Australia. I am having a very hard time finding the specifics needed for the report. It is very detailed as far as propagation, description, diseases, and many other areas. Any help you could offer on the subject or on how I can get more and possibly a photo would be great!! The plant is Hardenbergia violacea, and the family is Luguminosae. Thank you in advance for any information you may be able to provide.

Christy Lamb
Austin, Texas

Well you've certainly picked a good plant for your project. It's a common species in eastern Australia and is widely cultivated as well. It grows naturally in my local area. There's also a popular cultivar known as "Happy Wanderer". Here's a few general notes.

Botany. Although it's undoubtedly a legume (and has the nitrogen fixing root nodules typical of Leguminosae) the tendency here is to place it in a separate family (Fabaceae) along with all of the other "pea flowers". There are three species, all Australian endemics.

Distribution. It is a widespread species occurring in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. It occurs in a variety of habitats from coast to mountains, usually in open forest/woodland and sometimes in heath.

Name. Hardenbergia...after Franziska Countess von Hardenberg; violacea...referring to the typical flower colour.

The typical form of Hardenbergia violacea is a climber which puts on a colourful display in eastern Australia in spring. Select the thumbnail image or plant name for a higher resolution image (34k).

Habit. Usually a light climbing species but shrubby forms without any climbing tendency are known.

Flower Colour. Usually violet but other colours such as pink and white are sometimes found.

Propagation. Easy from seed using "boiling water" as a pretreatment to soften the impervious seed coat. This is a common method with all pea flowers and simulates the effect of a bushfire in breaking down this physical dormancy. The seed retains viability for many years.

Propagation from cuttings is also fairly easy. The use of root promoting hormones is common but may not be necessary.

Pests and Diseases. I've never noticed any real problems. The following extract is from "The Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants, Vol.5" by Elliot and Jones; "They do not suffer greatly from pests or diseases. Thrips and leaf miners can be a cause for concern, as well as powdery mildews and red spider mite. Painted apple moth does limited damage in some seasons. Seed development is often curtailed by caterpillar activity".

Resolving Conflict

I have recently planted a full Australian native garden in the front and back of my house and am eager to learn how to look after the plants. Some have already died and I am getting conflicting information my nursery and the garden designer who designed the garden.

Robert Williams

One of the problems we have is that people (even some in the nursery business) don't really understand the term "native plant". They expect all Australian native plants to be hardy and native gardens to be totally "no maintenance". Often differences in climate are overlooked between a plant's natural habitat and the place where attempts are being made to grow it. And a lot of native Australian plants don't easily accept such differences. This is why growers in the sub-tropical areas along the east coast have difficulty growing plants native to Mediterranean-type climates of southern Western Australia, South Australia and western Victoria.

If you're an enthusiast, these problems represent a "challenge" but if you just want reliable Australian plants for the garden, the people selling plants and designing gardens need to be aware that all Australian plants are not hardy everywhere.

I hope this isn't painting too dark a picture! We'll do our best to provide accurate advice through the web site and this online journal.

Waddy'a know about Acacia peuce?

I have growing an Acacia peuce ("Waddy Tree"). It is nearly 2 years old and was grown from a seed taken from a mature tree seed pod. I never thought it would grow here in Albury/Wodonga.

Originally grown in a tube, it has been transplanted twice and is now in a 800mm (12 inch) pot. It has grown to about 9 inches tall. The soil used is a mixture of bonsai mix and red earth of desert origin - this same soil mix is used to successfully grow Sturt's Desert Peas which flower for about seven months each year.

I would like to ask advice about winter protection of the Waddy Tree. During winter should it be moved from its current prominent position in the garden where it will be subject to frost to:

  1. Hot house
  2. Under pergola
  3. Covered with clear plastic bag to retain heat
  4. Left as is in the garden or
  5. any other advice you may be able to give
Gary Roberts

Now I just know someone's going to ask! Why the "Waddy Tree"? Well, as far as I know, "waddy" is an aboriginal word for a wooden club which could be used to inflict grievous bodily harm when circumstances required it. Perhaps Acacia peuce is a good source of suitable timber. Does anyone know for sure?

Gary, if you can successfully grow and flower Sturt's Desert Pea, perhaps you could let us know your secrets and methods. A lot of reader's would be happy with a single flower!:-)

I can't give you any first hand advice about Acacia peuce....I've never grown it and, from what I can make out, there aren't too many people who have. Whatever you decide to do over winter, perhaps you could let us know how it turns out.

The only information I could find about the plant is a few paragraphs in "The Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants". There it's described as being both very slow growing and very hardy and able to grow successfully in hot dry climates. "Very little is known about its behaviour in cultivation and such factors as growth rate with supplementary irrigation and response to fertilisers remain unknown".

So where does this leave you? From what I can make out about the climate where the plant grows naturally, I would have thought that very cold winter nights would be something it would be used to although I'm not sure what degree of frost it might experience naturally. If it were mine I would leave it where it is but make provision to cover the plant with plastic if frost is forecast. I would remove the plastic during the daytime.

Propagation Mysteries!

I just thought I would drop you a line about your great page and newsletter. As a new landowner in the lower Blue Mountains and a strong proponent for native plants, I was delighted to find your page, and found it very useful - especially the propagation page, which was always a mystery to me!

A word on the newsletter - what is the difference between a web page and a newsletter? I agree with Christian Narkowicz - an evolving electronic publication is useful, and you could just add and subtract the articles from the paper based publication as required.

By the way, it has been a couple of months since I visited the site and I've found it much more useful than last time. I also like the thumbnail pictures in the gallery - my machine takes a long time to load pictures (zzzz) and smaller ones with the opportunity to view the larger ones that interest is great.

Anyway, keep up the good work - it inspires me to keep going in my garden!

Ingrid McCarthy

Thanks Ingrid. If you have any suggestions on what could be included on the page, let us know.

I guess the difference between the newsletter and the web site is that the newsletter material is a bit more temporary, although I hope to be able to retain back issues on line for some time. I also hope that a newsletter might provide scope for discussion and feedback between users. The material on the web page should reflect, more or less, the basic activities and interests of the Society. It might be amended but I would imagine that there would always be a Propagation Page, for example, even if it changes from the present one. When the newsletter discusses propagation, it will be along the lines of presenting research or tips from experienced growers, some of which might be incorporated into the main propagation page..

The thumbnail images were put on line for precisely that reason...we don't all have lightning fast access to the internet, a fact that seems to have escaped the developers of many recent web sites where there is an obsession with graphics.

Slow Lilies!

Do you have any ideas to help my Gymea Lilies flower. We have three plants all under gum trees in a native garden. One has flowered once in the twelve years we have been living here, that was seven years ago.

Each year I view with envy the great displays on the Heathcote road and on the way to the Woronora Dam. Any ideas?

Anne Glover

Unfortunately not a lot. Gymea lilies are renowned as being slow to flower and erratic flowerers. I've heard of plants taking around 20 years to flower! So to get one into flower in 12 years isn't so bad. Why it hasn't flowered since I just don't know.

I've consulted several reference books but none shed any light on the problem. My only suggestion is a bit drastic. Sometimes plants seem to flower if they "feel" threatened. So perhaps treating the plant hard (cut out extra water) might give it the message to procreate. No responsibility if it dies though!! :-)

Verticordia!? What's That??

I recently acquired a small plant (6" tall) of Verticordia plumosa. Once I got home and tried to research it, I found it is so new in this area that no information is available about it.

I want to grow it in a sunny site, on a rather heavy clay-soil slope. At my location, it gets as low as 26 F (about -6 C) on a few nights in the winter, with summer days ranging between 68 F and 100 F.

The questions are "How big will it get?" and "Can it get by with no summer water under these conditions?"

Any suggestions as to where I can find answers would be appreciated.

Berkeley, California

Verticordias are generally small shrubs in the myrtle family (Myrtaceae). Almost all are native to Western Australia. They are generally known as "Feather Flowers" because the small flowers are surrounded by sepals which have a feather-like edge. The plants are very popular as cut flowers. V.plumosa is generally regarded as one of the hardier members of the genus and would normally be a plant to about 0.5-1 metre tall by about 1 metre spread. As the name suggests, the flowers are mauve-purple in colour. In the eastern states of Australia the high summer humidity and rainfall doesn't suit them and they are very difficult to grow. In their natural habitat they usually experience a Mediterranean climate with wet winters and dry summers.

I don't know a lot about the climate in your area but I think it is Mediterranean so you should be able to grow the plant with reasonable success. If your climate is similar to Santa Cruz you should do OK as the Arboretum at the University of California there grows many Australian plants very successfully.

The garden conditions you suggest shouldn't cause a problem although I'd prefer to see it growing in something with a bit more sand. I think good drainage will be the key rather than the nature of the soil. Once the plant is established it should be able to survive without summer water....it does in nature. You would probably need to water it in summer in its first season.

For those interested in Verticordia, the Society's print quarterly "Australian Plants" devoted a full issue to Verticordia in the December 1995 issue. For further information on subscribing to Australian Plants, see Subscribe.

Expatriate Acacias

I am looking for an Acacia that will grow in Virginia, USA. Any help would be appreciated.

Mark Underwood
Virginia, USA

If my understanding of the USDA Climate Zone system is correct, Virginia is in Zone 7 which would give winter minimums of 0 to 10 degrees F (-12 to -18 degrees C). It's quite possible that a number of Acacias could tolerate this but the best I can do is suggest some that are known to be frost tolerant here. Whether this translates into being cold tolerant in your area is something that I really don't know.

I'd suggest A.boormanii, A.beckleri, A.cultriformis, A.floribunda, A.spectabilis, A.flexifolia and A.dealbata. These are all fairly common and seed would be available from most suppliers.

Perhaps you could let us know how your Acacias perform...I'm sure we'll still be around in a year or so :-).

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