Vanishing Bees
             

Paul Plant

   
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The below item complements this article read in the current issue:

More information and links on bees.

Bees Supplement

 

   

The humble European Honey-bee (Apis mellifera) is one of the most important creatures on earth – pollinating flowers which produce the fruit, nuts and seeds that we along with other animals consume; perpetuating the life cycles of many species of plants; and being a major part of the commercial food web.

Pollinators of plants include bees, ants, butterflies, moths, birds and bats, and others. Different flowers have evolved to attract specific pollinators. Bees are one of the most efficient pollinators and the honey bee far outstrips most other species as being the most industrious of species. The honey bee was imported by Australia’s early settlers as it was found that without their presence, fruit and seed production was poor or non-existent without their assistance.

It is recognised that the more pollinators that visit a flowering plant, the more fruit it will produce. Pollination also enhances fruit shape or size, for example, a strawberry is better shaped if all the flower ovaries
are pollinated.

Honey bees directly influence the world’s food supply. A decline in the honey bee population can result in less food. There is a concern worldwide about vanishing bees.

 
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three
 
 
Hardenbergia violacea ‘Happy Wanderer’.
 
Basil (Ocimum basilicum).
 
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Duranta
             
Bruce Tinworth


 

 

   

Duranta erecta (syn. D. repens, D. plumeri) is an ornamental plant most often used for hedging.

It has been variously described as “…the most popular hedging plant in Australia…a beautiful and fragrant screen…drought tolerant…(with)…clusters of purple flowers followed by bunches of golden berries…(that are)… attractive to bees, butterflies and bird.”

Potentially Toxic
The Queensland Government Poisons Information Centre places Duranta erecta in Toxicity Categories 1 and 2. There are many other non-native and native plants also listed in Categories 1 and 2.

The leaves, fruit and bark of Duranta erecta (and all cultivars) are all poisonous. Not only recorded as causing gastro-intestinal irritation, vomiting and diarrhoea in humans; it is also toxic to dogs and cats with those affected displaying symptoms of drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhoea, melaena, hyperaesthesia, tetanic seizures and intestinal haemorrhage.

Weediness
Duranta is regarded by many people as an environmental weed in some bushland districts. Specimens in the bush have occurred as a result of seed dispersal by birds and bats; by the re-location of seeds due to gravity and flood; by people dumping garden waste that carry seeds; and in some cases, the direct result of historical plantings on properties edging bushland.

Native plant alternatives are also looked at.

 
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three
 
 
Purple Hovea (Hovea sp.). Image Wendy Clark-Hackett.
 
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Whitsunday Bottle Tree
             
Ross Gelling

 

 

   

During the summer months the lush emerald green hills surrounding the beachside township of Airlie Beach are speckled with blazes of intense red. The Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) flowering punctuates the summer heat with their searing intensity.

The Whitsunday region hosts three representatives of the ‘Kurrajongs’ with one species making an impact in local gardens and street plantings.
The Whitsunday Bottle Tree (Brachychiton compactus) has been known to the Queensland Herbarium since the 1970s and previous efforts to classify the species had the tree closely associated with the Central Queensland

Bottle Tree (B. rupestris) with which it shares some similarities in appearance.

 
From a 1 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three
 
 
 
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Scented Gardenia Bush
             
 

 

   

Australia has a number of plants related to the popular gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides), some are also in the genus Gardenia and some are not. This plant was once named Gardenia ochreata and Kailarsenia ochreata but still remains in the family Rubiaceae.

Native to open forests along streams and river banks in north eastern Queensland. It is recorded as naturally common in some districts around Townsville yet is rarely seen elsewhere in cultivation.

It has a habit of dropping its leaves during the dry season, typically the winter months of June, July and August, so locate this plant appropriately in the garden so that there are complementary plants nearby.

This native gardenia is a small tree or large shrub ranging in height from 2 to 5 m in the wild, depending on growing conditions. However, under cultivation, it is generally 1.5 to 3 m, particularly if given the occasional light trim to enhance its bushiness.

 
From a 1 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three
 
 
Image John Beasley
 
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