About fifteen members and visitors arrived at Tim D’Ombrain’s block in Snowgum road, Dereel for our excursion. Tim explained how he was able to purchase this block of twenty acres of land that had only been lightly grazed, so that most of the original native species of plants and trees have survived. He said that the area near the road would be classified as grassy woodland. Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra and Weeping Grass Microlaena stipoides were among the grasses seen.
One of the many plants that Tim was able to indentify was Austral Adders Tongue Ophioglossum lusitanicum. This fern-like plant has only one or two fronds arising together. The young parts do not unroll like true ferns. One of the first orchids seen was the Tiny Greenhood Pterostylis parviflora. Sundews were plentiful, but we did not see any in flower until later in the day.
Tim showed us a large snowgum that had a hollowed out trunk about 2.5 metres across at the base. This tree was surrounded by young snowgum saplings. Tim’s partner Kristin was involved in a survey of snowgums undertaken in 2008 for Natural Resource Management. A few specimens of the Enteloma fungi were noted. The dark grey conical caps have a dimple in the centre. The stem was also dark grey and the gills had a pink tinge caused by the maturing spores. Other plants seen nearby included the Erect Guinea-flower Hibbertia riparia and Peach Heath Lissanthe strigosa which had red flower buds. Small Grass-trees Xanthorrhoea minor were also plentiful in places.
We moved to a different area where the soil was sandy. Tim said that this area was classified as damp sand herb rich woodland. Scentbark Eucalyptus aromaphloia, Prickly and Silky Tea-trees, Lepidospermum continentale and L. myrsinoides and Black Sheoak Allocasuarina littoralis grew in this area. Twining Fringe-lily Thysanotus patersonii was seen among the small grass-trees. A pale fawn coral fungi Ramaria sp. was seen on the sandy ground. One large Swamp Gum had numerous hollows for nesting birds and possums. In an area of bracken we found the Nodding Greenhood Pterostylis nutans and the Tall Greenhood P.longifolia. Helmet Orchid leaves were also found here. On the deep sand the Rough-barked Manna Gum Eucalyptus viminalis subsps. cygnetensis was growing. Leaves of the Chocolate lily Arthropodium strictum and the Yellow Rush-lily Tricoryne elatior were also seen.
Tim’s knowledge was invaluable when trying to indentify plants that were not in flower. Kristin asked me to indentify an unusual fungus which consisted of individual velvety black spikes to 50mm tall and up to10mm thick. These were the Earth Tongue Geoglossum sp. Near some Cherry Ballarts were some Pink Bells Tetratheca ciliata and the Common Flat-pea Platylobium obtusangulum. Tim was hoping to find some Parson’s Bands in this area but it was probably too late for them.
In an area with little grass Tim pointed out some small plants that included Hundreds and Thousands Stylidium inundatum, Pink Bindweed Convolvulus erubescens, Yellow Pennywort Hydrocotyle foveolata, Yellow Star Hypoxis vaginata and the Pink Bladderwort Urtricularia tenella. At the start of the excursion Tim gave me a list of over 120 native plants on his block. We saw a good proportion of the ones on the list.
After lunch we left Tim and Kristin and headed into Dereel. Our leaders for the afternoon, Bill and Paul, took us to a block off Swamp road about a kilometre west of the Dereel Hall. This area had been control burnt about eighteen months ago. Here among the bracken we found Slaty Helmet Orchids Corybas incurvus in flower. Other orchids seen were the Nodding Greenhood Pterostylis nutans, a large flowered Striped Greenhood Pterostylis alata and a midge orchid Acianthus sp. The white flowered Scented Sundew Drosera whittakeri had flowers open despite the cloudy weather. We moved around the block to Swanston road. On a flat area with few trees we saw Common Beard-heath Leucopogon virgatus in flower. White flowered Pink Heath Epacris impressawas in flower beside the road. A male Scarlet robin as well as Grey Shrike-thrush and White-throated Tree-creeper were seen at this spot.