New Kid on the Block

Great news from our Grasslands SPA for this spring. We welcome a new addition to our vast and ever growing species list! 

Soon going into production will be Craspedia variabilis, a member of the Asteraceae family, and surely one of the most beautiful of all the species in this vast worldwide family, numbering more than 23,000 species!

It is a  widespread species in NSW and Victoria but now exceedingly rare on the Cumberland Plain. In fact we know of only one population, just a stones throw from Richmond SPA!

It was the sharp eye of Project Officer Lachlan Overton, along with Chris Macris, that discovered the small population and brought it to our attention. We now have some seed and will sow them this week.

Interestingly one of its common names is  ‘Emu flower’, apparently because it is favoured as a food  by wild Emus. It is easy for those of us with imaginations to picture in our minds the vast flocks of Emus that  once must have roamed the  grassland areas of what is now modern day Richmond or Penrith, feeding on these tall, elegant and brilliantly golden yellow flowers. Sadly such idyllic scenes are but a vague memory, lost in time and progress, factories and M4’s.

I will quote here a vivid passage from Robbo’s, the preferred field guide:

the Emu flowers were now abundant, and in full blossom; the colonial appellation has been given from the Emus feeding upon them, that is , when Emus were to be seen…..for they have been driven by the encroaching settlements far into the interior of the colony, and before long an Emu will be as great, if not greater rarity , at Sydney than in England…….” wrote George Bennet in 1832.

Please enjoy the attached photo of our new family addition. And look out for more populations! Western Sydney Grasslands Project always seeks to enhance the genetic information available to us.