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My budding romance with Botany


Catarina Murphy

Little Desert National Park VIC Bush Blitz | Oct 2018

Today was about everything plants. We went out with the Botany team - Val, Daniel and Andre - from the National Herbarium of Victoria at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

We saw a range of angiosperms and bryophytes. My favourites were the Yam Daisy (pictured in the header) and the large green-comb Spider Orchid. The Yam Daisy was bright yellow which looked amazing in person (and on camera too). We learnt that the Yam Daisy has edible tubers; you can eat the species raw or roasted. It is a hard species to cultivate at home though so you can’t make it part of your meal plan, sorry!

The Spider Orchid was extremely fascinating to see in person and learn about. The flower needs to pollinate so it mimics the pheromones of female wasps to attract male wasps to help it along its journey. Even visually the plant looks like a female wasp is resting upon it. The flower attracts the pollinator onto the labellum (lip part of the flower) which is pulled down by its weight on a hinge. The wasp then makes contact with the stamen (“male” part of the flower) to collect pollen or the pistil (“female” part of the flower) to deposit the pollen from another flower. The male wasps will move from flower to flower in search of the female wasp until it realises there isn’t one (eventually). How awesome is that!?

my budding 1

Whilst we were exploring, fellow teacher Jeff caught a Gumleaf Grasshopper. After release, I thought that I would try to capture it for a quick video. It was super content with climbing around on my hands. It was a photogenic little guy so I was able to get some awesome pictures.

The plants in our backyard are pretty amazing and I'm so glad I was able to learn more about them.

New teams arrived tonight so I am looking forward to more days in the field!