Plants of Melbourne's Western Plains:
A Gardener's Guide to the Original Flora, 2nd Edition

Aquatic and Wetland Plants

Hover over the picture for plant information.

Plant names are linked to information in Vicflora.


Alisma plantago-aquatica

Water Plantain

An attractive plant (H 30cm, W 50cm) with large, heart-shaped leaves.
In late spring and summer the tall flowering stalk, bearing masses of pale pink or white flowers, makes a pretty display, although individual flowers only open in the afternoon.
Grows in moist, boggy soils, ponds or on edges of slow-moving creeks.

Baumea articulata
(synonym Machaerina articulata)

Jointed Twig-Rush

A tall, erect tussock (H 1—2m, W 1m+). Numerous cylindrical stems with brown, pendulous flowerheads. Will tolerate inundation to 1m. May form large clumps. Useful for planting beside pools. Locally rare with sporadic occurrences along the Maribyrnong River and tributaries.

Baumea juncea
(synonym Machaerina juncea)

Bare Twig-Rush

Rush-like in appearance with greyish stems (H 30cm—1m). Spreads by rhizomes, often forming drifts.
Grows on moist river banks and will tolerate inundation to 50cm. Locally rare. Highly ornamental. Ideal plant for bog gardens.

Bolboschoenus caldwellii

Marsh Club-Rush or
Salt Club-Sedge

Rush-like plant (H 30—90cm, W 1m) for boggy or swampy positions. Lime-green, triangular stems and small, golden flowering spikes in spring and summer.
Spreads via underground stems, which can also be used for propagation.
Water birds are attracted to the dense upright stems, using them for cover and nesting material.

Brachyscome basaltica
(synonym Brachyscome paludicola)

Basalt Daisy

A slender daisy (H 50cm) with erect stems. Narrow, light-green leaves and white daisy flowers in spring and summer.
Prefers a sunny situation in moist soils and is ideal for bog gardens, where it forms drifts and will flower prolifically. Suckers easily. Not suitable for permanently dry soils.
Once common in gilgals, drainage lines and swamp margins.

Calotis anthemoides

Cut-Leaved Burr-Daisy

A pretty daisy (H 20cm, W spreading) with divided leaves and a spreading habit. White flowers in spring.
In its natural habitat occurs on poorly drained soils or depressions prone to waterlogging.
A good ground covering plant when mass planted.

Carex bichenoviana

Plains Sedge

A vigorous sedge (H 60cm, Spreading) with dark green stems, mostly in spring. Often forms large, dense swards in seasonally wet areas close to waterways. Common along Kororoit Creek but scarce elsewhere.
Does not set viable seed but can be divided.

Carex fascicularis

Tassel Sedge

Forms a dense tussock (H 1m, Spreading), with bright green foliage. The flower spikes dangle from long slender stems.
Prefers permanently wet soils in sun or semi-shade. Locally rare in the upper catchment area.

Carex gaudichaudiana

Tufted Sedge

Grows in scattered clumps (H 30cm—80cm, W 1m), occasionally forming dense swards. Prefers moist soils in riparian zones. The blue-green foliage is taller than flower spikes.
Tolerates full sun or semi-shade. Does not set viable seed; propagate by division.

Carex inversa

Knob Sedge

A grass-like sedge (H 10—40cm, W 40cm). Common along waterways and drainage lines in west.
Prefers moist soils but will tolerate extended dry periods.

Carex tereticaulis

Common Sedge,
Poong'ort or
Basket Sedge

A tall sedge (H 1—1.5m, W 1m) that forms a stiff, erect clump of cylindrical stems. Brown terminal flower spikes mostly in spring.
Prefers poorly drained, permanently wet soils but will tolerate extended dry periods. Important to creek edges and swamp margins in the west.
Prefers full sun or part shade.

Coronidium gunnianum
(formerly Helichrysum aff. rutidolepis,
synonym Coronidium aff. scorpoides )

Pale Swamp Everlasting

An attractive everlasting daisy (H 40cm, W patches to 1m) with pale-yellow, button-like flowerheads mostly from late spring to summer. Soft grey-green leaves.
It suckers freely, often forming (extensive carpets in drainage lines, gilgals and swamp margins.
Prefers an open, sunny position in moist, poorly drained soils.

Eleocharis acuta

Common Spike Rush

Numerous green, slender stems (H 70cm, Spreading) with small, brown terminal spikes in summer. Spreads by rhizomes, often forming dense swards. Prefers regularly inundated areas or shallow water.
Similar species:.
Eleocharis atricha TUBER SPIKE-RUSH.
Eleocharis pallens PALE SPIKE-RUSH.
Eleocharis pusilla SMALL SPIKE-RUSH

Eleocharis sphacelata

Tall Spike Rush

Tall, robust, leafless, spike-like rush (H 2m above water, W 2m) that grows in still or slow-moving freshwater up to 2m deep. Flowerhead just a few centimetres long at the tip of the spike.
Common plant of slow waterways, lakes, dams or billabongs. Can spread vigorously. Best suited to large areas, or for providing dense habitat for waterbirds and frogs.

Gahnia filum

Chaffy Saw-sedge

Tussock-forming, robust sedge (H 1m, W 1m) suitable for moist, inundated depressions or on lake or dam edges.
Long leaves with flower spike held above the leaves at the end of a long stem.
Food plant for a number of skipper butterflies.
A Koorie food plant.

Lythrum salicaria

Purple Loosestrife

A very showy, semi-aquatic perennial (H 1m, W 50cm). It has an erect habit and purple flower spikes in profusion in spring and summer.
Prefers a sunny position in moist or wet, and poorly drained soils. Dies back to rootstock in winter.
Suitable for pond edges or bog gardens.

Marsilea drummondii

Common Nardoo

A common, ornamental, semi-aquatic fern (H 5cm, W spreading) with silky, grey-green, clover-like leaves. A vigorous grower, spreading by rhizomes or spores.
Prefers boggy soils that are subject to seasonal waterlogging and will tolerate inundation to 30cm.
Suitable for bog gardens, edges or billabongs.

Mentha australis

River Mint

A vigorous, sprawling plant (H 20—80cm, W to 1m) with aromatic mint-fragrant leaves and clusters of small, white flowers in late spring and summer.
It has a suckering habit and prefers moist or wet soils in a sheltered position with sun or semi-shade. Suitable for pond edges or tubs.
Aborigines used it as a food plant to flavour foods, and as a cough remedy.

Mentha diemenica

Slender Mint or Wild Mint

A small, suckering groundcover (H 10—30cm, W 50cm—1m) with aromatic foliage and numerous white flowers in spring and summer.
Prefers moist soils in sun or semi-shade. Tolerates inundation, and will form a dense mat. Not as vigorous as other mints.
It is suitable for planting beside ponds or along pathways. May also be used for culinary purposes.

Thyridia repens
(Synonym: Mimulus repens)

Creeping Monkey-flower

A prostrate plant (H 10cm, W 50cm) with small, pink to violet flowers from spring to autumn.
A good water feature plant. It requires water around the root system and can tolerate inundation for periods of time.
It will not tolerate drought.

Myriophyllum crispatum

Upright Water-Milfoil

An ornamental aquatic plant (H 25—60cm, W spreading) with whorls of soft, fine leaves. Suitable for full sun and light shade. Accepts drying out once established. Flowers insignificant.
It is very common in waterways on the Basalt Plains. Prefers shallow, slow-moving water.
Myriophyllum simulans is a similar but less common species.

Persicaria decipiens

Slender Knotweed

A large plant (H 40cm, W 1—1.5m) suitable for large ponds or water features, it has vigorous, spreading growth and long, green leaves, often with black or brown blotches.
In summer and autumn the stems are topped with attractive small pink flower spikes.
Grows in sun to full shade and can be partially inundated with water but vulnerable to drought conditions.

Phragmites australis

Common Reed

Tall reed (H 2—3m) with upright flowering stems to 3m tall and leaves to 0.8m long on the stems.
Very common plant of ephemeral waterways, lake edges, or depressions with poor drainage and regular inundation. Can spread vigorously, forming dense thickets. Probably best suited to the re-creation or revegetation of large ecosystems, or for providing dense habitat for waterbirds and frogs. Tolerates some salinity.

Pycnosorus globosus

Drumsticks

20 - A delightful plant (H 20—50cm, W 50—90cm) with silvery- green foliage and numerous large, yellow, ball-like flowerheads.
Prefers moist soils and tolerates periodic inundation. Full sun preferred. Best when mass planted.
It was once a common plant found along swamp margins but it is now extremely rare on the Western Plains.

Ranunculus lappaceus

Australian Buttercup

Lovely herbaceous plant (H 40cm, W 20cm) with rich, green lobed leaves and masses of shiny, bright yellow flowers in spring.
It prefers soils that hold a bit of moisture although it withstands periods of dryness with occasional applications of water.
Best grown in a semi-shaded to full sun position. Suitable for growing in containers.

Samolus repens

Creeping Brookweed

A creeping plant (H 15cm, W 40cm) that can form a lush mat that is metres wide. White flowers on upright stems sit above the mat, mostly in summer.
Occurs in moist, inundated depressions or on lake edges.
Excellent plant for a water feature or other feature that undergoes occasional inundation with water. Tolerates considerable salinity.

Cycnogeton procerum
(formerly
Triglochin procera)

Water Ribbons

An attractive plant with long leaves that grow and float on top of water. The plant oxygenates the water, enabling fish to flourish. In spring and summer, green flower spikes with a raceme of white flowers emerge from the water.
Suitable for large water features.

Typha domingensis

Narrow-Leaf Cumbungi
or Bullrush

Tall reed (H 1—2m) with large, bullrush-like flower spikes.
Occurs along ephemeral waterways, lake edges or depressions receiving regular inundation. Can spread vigorously and reduce the holding capacity of dams. This plant is regarded as a pest in irrigation channels but is an important and attractive plant in the right situation.
Similar species: Typha orientalis (Broad-leaf Cumbungi) has wider leaves and is taller.

Xerochrysum palustre

Swamp Everlasting

Pretty everlasting daisy (H 30cm—1m) with one flower on a single upright stem. Showy bracts on the flowers are golden yellow above and golden-brown below.
Grows in swampy conditions. Mass planting produces a great effect, which is how it is seen in its natural habitat. Rare in the wild because of habitat depletion (lowland swamps on black, cracking clay).


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