Lees Valley

February 8, 2013

Towards the end of 2012, I visited Lees Valley – a botanically interesting area that is particularly noteworthy as the most important remaining site for a diminutive native daisy, called Brachyscome pinnata. With its steep valleys, insect-rich scrub and forest-clad hillsides, it is also a very beautiful place for those that have the patience to negotiate its long, winding road.

Upon my visit (accompanied by Michael Shepherd and Paul Lander), pink-flowered plants of Parsonsia capsularis were in full bloom. These acted as epicentres of insect activity – from which bees, native flies and moths (such as the attractive specimen pictured below) derived nectar.

Michael made the observation that climbers such as these are an oft-ignored (and vital) component of ecologies, which constitute a valuable food source – and should therefore be considered for gardens and plantings where people wish to create habitat for native animals.

Our primary reason for making the journey into the pastureland in Lees Valley’s comparatively wide basin was to see and photograph the critically endangered Brachyscome pinnata (pictured below) in the wild. This small daisy is somewhat similar in appearance to the lawn daisies (Bellis perennis) that are so widespread in urban lawns – although it bears larger, frillier flowerheads.

B. pinnata is an interesting case study in conservation, as it endures in grazed pasture – a hybrid habitat that may actually be a necessary state in which to maintain the population. Removing the animals that maintain the short grassland that contains this and other small native herbs (including members of Celmisia, Plantago and Ranunculus, as well as Rumex flexuosus) might lead to the development of taller, denser vegetation states that may exclude some of its current inhabitants.