NEW: This plant found on the dry Lake Learmonth bed is actually an introduced weed, related to the milk thistles and dandelions.A new plant for our local list has been found on the dry bed of Lake Learmonth.
Unfortunately it is an introduced weed, related to the milk thistles, dandelions and similar yellow-flowered plants.
Bushier than most, it is known as the false sow-thistle.
Milk thistle and sow thistle areoften interchangeable names.
Most people seem to use the name milk thistle for our common weedy garden plants.
Botanists and books know them as sow thistles.
This new plant for the Ballarat district is normally found only in Victoria’s north-west.
There it can be locally common, especially in sandy semi-arid areas.
Its appearance at Lake Learmonth last month is a surprise.
Its bushy growth, to 50 centimetres tall, made it stand out amongst other plants on the dry lake bed.
A specimen was brought in for identification and it is this that was photographed for today’s page.
The flowers are denser, and they have more petals, than those of most similar species.
They also have a small reddish centre, which other similar plants do not.
They are about 35 millimetres across.
References state that spring is the main flowering time for the false sow-thistle, although flowers can appear at other times.
The recent April flowers may reflect late germination in this annual plant, with flowers appearing towards the end of the plant’s life.
The leaves have a slight blue tinge, and are somewhat oak-leaf shaped – another unusual feature.
They are slightly fleshy, as are those of some of the milk thistles.
False sow-thistle is a native of the Mediterranean region.
Just the one plant has so far been found locally.
Is it going to be just a one off plant, or is it the forerunner of a potentially new and unwanted weed population?
The former is more likely.Its scientific name is Reichardia tingitana.
While most of the different yellow “dandelion” type flowers are unwelcome weeds from Europe, a notable exception is the native yam daisy or murnong.
This one looks confusingly like the common flatweed, but it is different in several respects.
It is a very different-looking plant from the false sow thistle at Learmonth.
Cattle egrets return
Cattle egrets are again with us, and have taken their place with local herds of cattle (and horses) in several places including Mt Rowan and Delacombe.
They seem to find food disturbed by the moving livestock.
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