banksia1

MOODJA or WESTERN AUSTRALIAN CHRISTMAS TREE

Nuytsia floribunda

The Christmas tree has a secret to its survival.  It is a parasite, attaching its roots to those of other plants and stealing their nutrients. It is not fussy; even grasses can provide sufficient nutrition to support a seedling Christmas tree. It is a member of the Mistletoe family and flowers in the Nyungar seasons of Birak and Bunuru. The stunning orange flowers attract a wide range of insects.  When the Moodja is in full flower, Nyungar people know that the hot weather is coming and it is time to be near the coast.

More about Nyungar seasons HERE

 

xmas tree             xmas tree1

Plants

Tuart tree with pair of galahs at the top 

Tuart Eucalyptus gomphocephala 

Tuart trees are like multi-storey buildings for animals.  Thousands of invertebrates, along with geckoes, skinks and bats hide under bark or in foliage.  The leaves of healthy Tuarts are peppered with chew marks and blemishes from insects.  Tuarts form extensive hollows which are used for shelter and nesting by birds such as Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos, Galahs, Australian Ringneck (Twenty-eight) Parrots and Pardalotes, as well as Brush-tailed Possums, Owls and Bats.  Tuarts have cultural significance to the Nyungar people because they help to sustain the birds and other wildlife and provide shade.  Their branches and boort (bark) may be used to construct mia-mia for shelter.  Tuart trees in Kells Road Reserve contain hollows which are used regularly by Galahs amongst other animals.

firewoodflower 

slenderBanksia 

Two species of Banksia, Banksia attenuata  (Piara or Slender Banksia) and Banksia menziesii  (Firewood or Menzies’ Banksia) form the cornerstone of Banksia Woodlands on the Coastal Plain in the Perth area.  The flowers are tiny, and many hundreds are contained in the large flower spikes.  Their large, distinctive flower spikes and cones are an important food source for many animals, and the cones have even been immortalised as ‘Banksia Men’ in children’s stories.

For more information about Banksias go to FAST FOOD

 Native Buttercups

Shrubs

The shrub layer in Banksia Woodland provides shelter and food for many species of animals.  Many of the shrubs are attractive when they flower and also provide nectar, pollen and seeds for hungry animals. 

Native Buttercups  Hibbertia hypericoides is an attractive low shrub which flowers from April to December.  Its bright yellow petals are eaten by Western Bearded Dragons and Bobtail Skinks.  The flowers are pollinated by beetles, which visit them to feed on the pollen.

Two-leaved Hakea

Two-leafed Hakea or Kerosene Bush Hakea trifurcata is a white flowered shrub growing to two metres.  Its white flowers appear from July to October and it is an important food plant for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos, which feed on its seeds.

 Dune Moses

Dune Moses or Panjang Acacia lasiocarpa is called Panjang or Pajang by Nyungar people.  The bright yellow pom-pom flowers of this wattle appear from May to October and attract a range of insect pollinators.

 

 Grey Stinkwood at a distance

Grey Stinkwood close up bwGrey Stinkwood  Jacksonia furcellata  is a sprawling, upright shrub with grey-green stems, brightly-coloured yellow and orange pea flowers and small seed pods.  It is eaten by Spiny Weevils and Case Moth larvae, amongst other insects, and is an important food plant for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos.  The wood of Stinkwoods has a pungent odour when cut, hence their common name.

 

 Green Stinkwood at a distance Green Stinkwood close upGreen Stinkwood or Koorpa  Jacksonia sternbergiana is a large shrub or small tree growing to three metres.  Its green stems produce yellow and orange pea flowers for most of the year.  Green Stinkwood provides food for many species of insects which chew the stems, flowers and seed pods as well as collecting the nectar and pollen from flowers.

 

Balga Grasstree or Balga  Xanthorrhoea preissei is a food source for animals including Spiny Weevils and other beetles.  Yellow Admirals and Painted Lady Butterflies feed on the nectar in its flower spikes.  Nyungar people call the leaves of Balga ‘mindarie’ and use them as roofing material for mia-mia (shelters).  Animals such as Honey Possums also use Balga as a shelter as do many species of reptiles and invertebrates.  Mindarie have white fleshy bases which may be chewed to relieve thirst.
Zamia palms

Sandplain Zamia or Djiridji Macrozamia fraseri is a plant of sandy soils.  It is a member of the cycad family and is dioecious (each plant is either male or female).  The fruits are toxic but Nyungar people soak them in running water for many weeks to leach out the toxins and then bury them underground for a time until they become edible.  The orange coating around the seed, not the seed itself, is eaten by Nyungar people.  Early Dutch explorers saw Nyungar people eating Zamia and tried to eat them without treating them first, and became very ill. 

 

Weeds 

Weeds invade Banksia Woodland when ground is disturbed or if people dump garden waste.

Wild Oats (Avena fatua)  is a common grassy weed that invades bushland.  It competes with native plant species and burns easily, increasing the risk of fire.  In bushland where small numbers of Western Grey Kangaroos still occur, they selectively graze grassy weeds such as Wild Oats, helping to maintain the health of the bushland.  In urban bushland, ‘Friends’ groups often undertake weeding to keep weeds at bay.