Plants of Melbourne's Western Plains:
A Gardener's Guide to the Original Flora, 2nd Edition
Wild flowers, Low Shrubs and Climbers - Part 1 of 4
Hover over the picture for plant information.
Plant names are linked to information in Vicflora.
A groundcover (H 15cm, W Spreading) with attractive, dark green leaves. Ornamental in flower and in seed. Seedheads have purple-red burrs that readily attach to clothing or pets.
It adapts to a variety of situations, tolerates full sun or semi-shade and thrives in moist soils.
Best planted away from walkways. Self seeds in the garden or spread by birds and animals.
A dense, prickly, prostrate plant (H 30cm, W 1m) with insignificant flowers borne deep in the plant on old wood.
The flowers form with a translucent swollen base containing a very sweet liquid that tastes like treacle.
Not widely grown in the garden and almost exclusively used as a novelty food plant.
A suckering herb (H to 30cm, W spreading) with soft, dark green leaves. In spring and early summer it develops purple flowers on erect stems.
Prefers moist, well-drained soils in a lightly shaded position.
A tufting plant (H 1m) with tall, slender stems and off-white to pale mauve flowers in late spring and summer.
Prefers moist, well-drained soils in semi-shade. May die back to root stock in summer.
Uncommon on the Keilor-Werribee Plains and generally restricted to sheltered sites along waterways.
Ideal for containers or planting under eucalypts.
An erect perennial lily (H 60cm) with purple to mauve flowers, mostly in spring, and a distinctive chocolate scent.
Prefers moist, well-drained soils with a sun fly or semi-shaded aspect.
Plants respond well to periodic watering that can extend flowering into early summer. In dry summers, plants die back to tubers before reshooting in autumn. May self seed in the garden. Susceptible to slug and snail damage.
Effective when planted in groups. Ideal for containers. Once common and abundant in most vegetation communities On the Keilor-Werribee Plains. The tubers are edible, roasted or raw.
A delicate plant (H 10—25cm, W Spreading) that is individually small but often seen in large numbers, appearing like a groundcover. Small white flowers at the tip of stems. This plant is an integral part of grasslands. Can be used as a spreading groundcover or for filling gaps in a recreated, wildflower-based grassland, especially between small-leaved grasses.
A vigorous, prostrate groundcover (Prostrate, W 2m) with grey-green leaves and yellow to red berries in summer.
Prefers a well-drained position. Very hardy. Another form, growing to 50cm high and 2m wide occurs on the Keilor-Werribee Plains.
A very attractive, sprawling plant (Prostrate, W to 1m). Small, oval, dark green leaves. Inconspicuous until numerous yellow and red pea flowers appear in spring.
Prefers well-drained soils in a sunny or semi-shaded aspect. Occurs predominantly on sedimentary soils.
Suitable for planting under trees, in rockeries or containers.
A slender daisy (H 30cm, W 30cm) with numerous white flowers with yellow centres, mostly in spring but occasionally throughout the year.
Prefers moist, well-drained soils in full sun or semi-shade. Summer moisture will extend flowering. Ideal for rockeries or pots. May self seed in gardens.
Once common in gilgals on grasslands, often in clusters of 100 plants or more.
A perennial woodland species (H 20cm, W 50cm+) with a compact growth habit. Pretty lilac daisy flowers with yellow centres throughout the year, especially spring.
Occurs naturally on sedimentary soils in higher rainfall zones. Adapts to most soils in cultivation. Prefers a sunny or semi-shaded position in well-drained soils. Suckers. Rejuvenated by severe pruning.
Suitable for rockeries, containers and hanging baskets. Very attractive when planted with grey-foliaged species such as Chrysocephalum apiculatum and Calocephalus citreus.
A plant (H 20—30cm, W 15cm) with a rosette of silky leaves and striking blue pincushion-shaped flowers.
Prefers an open position in sun or semi-shade. Sedimentary soils are preferred. It does not tolerate heavy basalt soils or poor drainage.
Suckers, often forming drifts. Ideal for containers, but often short lived in cultivation.
A tufted perennial herb (H 40cm) with green, succulent, onion-like leaves and yellow flowers on tall flower stems.
Prefers an open, sunny position or lightly shaded situation in well-drained soils.
Plants die down to tubers in dry conditions. Flowers in spring for several months. New growth is attractive to slugs and snails. Best planted in groups. May regenerate in the garden by self seeding.
A widespread plant in grasslands and grassy woodlands.
A plant (H 40cm) with a head of milk-white flowers with red-pink centres in spring.
Grows well in a container but needs careful placement to avoid competition from other plants.
Milkmaids withstand a range of conditions but prefer ample moisture at flowering and good drainage.
In summer the leaves can die back to a fleshy tuber.
Forms a compact leafy tussock (H 30cm, W 20cm). Numerous spikes of dark blue flowers in spring and early summer.
Prefers well-drained soils in full sun or semi-shade. Ideal for pots or rockeries. Dies back to rootstock in summer.
Once common in grasslands and woodlands.
Lemon Beauty Heads
A perennial plant (H 10—30cm, W 30cm—1m) forming a tuft of narrow silver-grey leaves. Numerous small lemon flowers in late spring and summer. Very hardy. Dies off after flowering. Remove old flower stems before the plant reshoots in winter.
A common component of Grasslands, Grey Box Woodlands and River Red Gum Woodlands.
Prefers a sunny position in well- drained soils. Most effective when planted in groups among a variety of other grassland species.
Milky Beauty Heads
A perennial (H 10—30cm, W 10—30cm) with aromatic grey leaves. Creamy white flowers in summer. Provides nectar for butterflies. Most common in River Red Gum Woodlands.
Prefers moist soils in full sun or light shade.
Tufted Burr Daisy
A vigorous groundcover (H 10—20cm, W Spreading) with numerous white daisy flowers on stems held above the foliage in spring and summer. Spreads by sending out runners, which root at the nodes.
Prefers a moist, sunny position in heavy basalt soils. Once common in gilgals and drainage lines on the plains.
Similar species: Calotis scabiosifolia, which has pale mauve-to-white flowers and a basal rosette of large-toothed leaves. All Calotis species are locally rare.
Ross' Noon flower or Inland Pigface
A spreading plant (H 10cm, W 1—2m) with succulent leaves that are almost triangular in cross section. Large bright-pink flowers are a feature in spring and summer.
Prefers well-drained soils in full sun or part shade. Very hardy. Suitable for rocky escarpments, retaining walls or for planting under eucalypts.
A dense everlasting daisy (H 10—30cm, W 50cm—1m) with woolly, grey foliage and terminal clusters of golden everlasting flowerheads most of the year. A common component of native grasslands. There are several forms growing on the plains, varying from small forms with miniature flowerheads, to those with larger flowerheads, longer leaves and more vigorous growth habits. The large-flowered form is more common on the plains. The other forms will sucker and flower constantly in cultivation.
Prefers a sunny site in well-drain soils. Severe pruning rejuvenate plants and encourages new growth. Frost hardy and suitable for groundcovers, rockeries, pots and cut and dried flowers.
A plant (H 30cm—1m, W Spreading to 1—3m) with numerous erect stems with terminal clusters of golden everlasting flowerheads. Soft, narrow, woolly, grey or green foliage.
Prune severely after flowering to allow for growth of new stems. May sucker slightly.
A variable species, with several different forms, suited to a sunny or semi-shaded situation. Suitable for use as cut or dried flowers.
A highly ornamental climber providing winter colour. It bears masses of creamy-yellow starry flowers in mid-winter, which are followed by fluffy seedheads on female plants. Once established, it is a vigorous climber and may need pruning.
Prefers an open, sunny position in well-drained soils, but will accept some shade. Excellent as a screening plant supported by a robust trellis.
C. Microphylla has recently been split into three species, with two thought to occur on the plains — C. Microphylla, with 9—12 leaflets per leaf, and C. Decipiens with more than 12. Of the two, C. Decipiens may be more common on the plains.
(formerly Convolvulus erubescens
A delicate, prostrate groundcover or light twiner/climber. Narrow, hairy, grey-green leaves on fine stems. Often forms a massed display of pink flowers in spring and summer.
Prefers a sunny position in well-drained soils.
With various subspecies, it is a common species on the volcanic plains.
Similar species: In 2001 Convolvulus was revised and it is likely that all plants on the Keilor-Werribee Plains previously referred to as Convolvulus remotus are now encapsulated within the two locally occurring subspecies of Convolvulus angustissimus, i.e. C. angustissimus ssp. angustissimus and C. angustissimus ssp. omnigracilis.
(formerly Helichrysum scorpioides
A perennial everlasting daisy (H 30cm, W 15—20cm) with soft green leaves and bright button-like flowerheads in spring and summer.
It can sucker lightly and form small clumps. Prefers moist, well-drained, sedimentary soils, in full sun or light shade.
Common Billy Buttons
A perennial plant (H 30—50cm) with a basal rosette of broad soft grey-green leaves. Yellow globular flowerheads on long stalks. Very attractive in flower.
Prefers moisture but often found in open Grassy Woodlands and shallow soils.
Once common on swamp margins.