Sometimes you walk past something and don’t even recognise it – that’s often the case with me and plants. I don’t know as much as I’d like – and the more I know, the more I realise I don’t know – but I’m getting better with the botany. Copy-editing botany books, as I do occasionally, certainly helps.
Yesterday just before lockdown was visited upon us again, we visited the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens. Although it opened in 2013, I’d never been there.
It is relatively small but impressive nevertheless. I’d like to volunteer there but Wednesday (when the work days are) is one of my days at the museum – perhaps I’ll follow up that opportunity in the future.
I walked past a very large plant that looked like a gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa), then took a second look as the flower was not like the spectacular gymea – it was even more spectacular! Fortunately there was a volunteer nearby doing some watering, so I collared him for an answer.
It is the giant spear lily (Doryanthes palmeri), a vulnerable species endemic to the Mt Warning/Wollumbin caldera area in northern New South Wales. For a scientific paper on it, click here. The gymea lily (endemic to southern Sydney and the Illawarra, and apparently to several Lismore streets) is the only other member of the genus. I’ve probably walked past giant spears on my ramblings on the Scenic Rim, but assumed they were gymeas.
My font of information at the gardens said various honeyeaters will happily sip from it – not surprising as there are certainly very many flowers on a flower spike that may reach a height of 5 metres.
It is always a pleasure to talk to knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers.