Monday, 9 January 2012

The backside of Palerang

That is of course a reference to Mount Palerang after which the magnificent Shire in which I reside is named!  The backside bit of the title refers to my visiting the Eastern side of the mountain, which is the far side when viewed from our property. My main reason for visiting this area was to revisit the junction of the Mulloon and Gourock Range fire trails where we found a few orchids and a mass of orchid leaves on an ANPS trip some time back.

On first getting to the area (after a very easy crossing of Mulloon Creek) I spent several minutes checking the area for orchid flowers or leaves.  Alas the forest floor was bare: obviously the species are all spring flowering and now it is Summer.

So I unloaded the bike from the back of the car and went for a ride.  I had wondered about the Gourock Range Fire Trail, but on checking the map that seemed to involve a fairly solid climb of about 100m in the first kilometre so I took what looked to be a softer option and went South along the Palerang Trail behind the mountain.  It was undulating rather than scenic.

However looking at the slopes of the mountain itself it appeared to be very scenic: very steep and well covered with vegetation, some of it of a prickly nature.  Overall the first part of the ride is tall forest.
In the understorey were a number of attractive native flowers.  The commonest were trigger plants (Stylidium sp).
See comment about the following image from Denis below.  That puts it as Rhytidosporum - and on reading what Plantnet has to say about the 5 species I believe it is procumbens. 
 Some Acacias were flowering along the edge of the track.
(A small parenthesis if you don't mind.   Many (>30) years ago I read a book about a series of physicists.  This may have been by C P Snow - the key point is that the author - or possibly one of his subjects-  rated the physicists according to how they would be scored if their expertise was in cricket rather than physics.  A journeyman would be considered  a solid County Player someone quite solid in their grasp of the subject (possibly Edward Teller, if you discount his politics) would be rated an average Test player while the top line (Einstein, Niels Bohr) were rated as opening the batting for a Test Team.)

A lot of Xerochrysum bracteatum was growing along the track.  I'd rate this as basically a club player of a plant (we have acres of the closely related, but shorter and stickier X viscosum at home) but due to its height here promote it to County standard.
This species was also providing food for an attractive Tiger Moth (Eressa augustipenna

There were some very steady Test players in the Tree Fern department.
In case the reader wonders why I didn't get a close up of these plants I will ask the question "What is it about the words "Snake habitat" you don't understand?".

However definitely opening the batting for the National side - at least they would be if Scotland had a Test team - were the thistles.
I leant my bike against the plant for a sense of scale, but the fact that a thistle is able to support a MTB is itself a rather strong statement.  I would rate it as quite likely that the thistle growth was a side effect of the tasteful efforts of the timber industry:
Whatever the quality of this wood - and I think it is mainly stringybark - I suspect these piles would keep a suburb in firewood for a couple of years.  Instead it is lying here going to waste while useful trees are being felled out in the plains.


Denis Wilson said...

Martin, Martin, Martin.
You cannot skip over such perfectly photographed little white flowers without not naming them, without me spotting the gap.
Let me give you a genus, and even possibly a species name, dependiong upon whether it was a prostrate plant or low shrub.
Rhytidosporum as the genus, for sure. The swollen ovary in the centre of the flower is a dead giveaway, and the nice little purple anthers.
R. prostratum is listed as "Robertson to Braidwood". which is convenient.
There is another alpine form, depending on how high you think you were.

Hope those notes help.
Nice post.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Denis: a definite help.

I think this was a bit high for R prostratum (and the soil wasn't sandy. Leave shape not good for R alpinum ; the anthers not right for R inconspicuum; and out of range for R disomoides. So R procumbens wins the day!!