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My favourite plant begins with "A"

by Robert Whyte

I'm sure there are a lot more plants beginning with A than with X or Z. Those poor cousin letters down at the bottom of the alphabet hardly get a mention.

Lets look at the Zeds in Enoggera species. We have Zanthoxylum Brachyacanthum (Thorny yellow-wood) Zehneria Cunninghamii (Slender cucumber) Zieria Smithii (Sandfly zieria) and Zornia Muriculata (Zornia).

I know them all intimately - NOT. I've seen Slender Cucumber in a book once and even thought we had a specimen, but it turned out to be an Einadia. Harumph.

As for Ys - the only Y recorded by Peter Young in Brisbane Forest Park is Youngia (coincidence?) Japonica. Not a forest giant, by any means. In fact it's a daisy. A herb to 60cm. Double harumph. In my photo collection the only Y I have is "Yellow Slime Mould".

Thank goodness for the Xanthorrheas (Grass Trees)! At least everybody knows these icons of the Australian bush.

But lets face it - if you were to pick a letter, you really can't go past A. In the Enoggera catchment there are 109 plants starting with A in Peter Young's list, and even though some of the Austromyrtus species have been renamed in honour of Wayne Goss (Gossia), there are still over 100.

And the A's have some of the biggest and most beautiful. The cream rises to the top, as they say.

Araucaria Cunninghamii (Hoop Pine) for example. At 60m probably our tallest tree. Majestic. And Alectryons - marvellous plants. Edible, and native insects that feed on it might be able to be trained to eat Balloon Vine.

And who can remain unmoved at the beautiful mimic mistletoe Amylotheca Dictyophleba. Just saying the name is pure pleasure.

Amylotheca dictophleba
Amylotheca dictyophleba (Scrub Mistletoe) on a Hard Quandong in Walton Bridge Reserve.

Aphananthe Philippinensis has been a long time favourite. Tough as old boots, bush tucker, slow growing - a good sign of a quality remnant.

Aphananthe philippinensis
Aphananthe philippinensis (Rough Leaved Elm, Axe Handle Wood)

OK, if you're still with me and I haven't given you a case of the Zeds (snore) with all this plant talk, let me confess.

The real reason my favourite plant begins with A is the website. I've just about finished doing up good descriptions of all the Enoggera species beginning with A in our database. Not complete - only the ones with photographs. Still a good number.

Here are links to some of them. Have a squiz. You may be surprised!