Roadside wetland plants- what have we got and what are we losing?

In patches along the Seven Creeks floodplain above Polly McQuinns and highly visible from the Strathbogie Road, are areas covered by masses of yellow buttercups. These water-loving plants are widespread in the Strathbogie’s wet areas and particularly along streams. I’d never bothered to examine them closely before, but now I’m curious.

Australia has about 30 species of native buttercup, but this isn’t one of them. The Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) is a plant native to Europe and parts of Asia, but is now an invasive weed in many countries.

The large, yellow flowers with five broad petals (>9mm wide) make it pretty easy to distinguish this vigorous, creeping plant from native buttercups.

Creeping Buttercup infestations now occupy very large areas, crowding out a more diverse and stable collection of native plants and animals. Moncultures of Creeping Buttercup represent a serious local loss of native biodiversity.

A bit further along the road I found more splashes of colour, but this time it was a native pea that loves wet areas.

The Mountain Mirbelia (Mirbelia oxylobioides) is conspicuous right now along parts of Spring Creek Rd, Strathbogie and various other Strathbogie Ranges districts.

Its golden-red flowers are dotted along roadsides that cut through wet areas. This would make a great garden plant around ponds, or in boggy areas that could do with a bit of additional vertical structure; a couple of Mountain Mirbelias here and there in a bog or springsoak would provide a gorgeous splash of colour in spring and make a positive ecological contribution to how well your wetland functions.

Peas and other wetland shrubs (knee-high to head-high) have suffered massive losses since the onset of large-scale clearing of this landscape in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Most now have very restricted distributions, occurring here and there in remnant springsoaks and largely hidden from public view.

Unfortunately, only when plants are near a roadside, or when they’re advertising their position with a floral display, do most people even notice the diversity of plants in the landscape. And if you don’t know what you’ve got, then you don’t know what you’re losing! Its an age-old problem, and we need to keep at it.

This entry was posted in aquatic plants, roadsides, Seven Creeks, Spring, Spring Ck, Strathbogie, wetlands. Bookmark the permalink.

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