Plant of the Week - Study it, learn it, love it and make it feel welcome

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Constantly seeking to expand upon our own knowledge, and always keen to keep things interesting, the staff at AR started a tradition that is known as ‘Plant of the Week’. Each week we choose one plant from the Reserve and find out more about it and share that information with staff, volunteers and anyone interested and this week we thought we would start sharing it online as well!

This week’s plant is Astrebla pectinata, or Barley Mitchell Grass, as it’s more commonly known. It is just one of the plants that have seen a noticeable change within both the Reserve and around the Roxby region after a bit of summer rain.

“Mitchell Grass dries off in winter and puts on new growth with summer rains, which is what we’ve seen recently” said Arid Recovery’s Ecologist Cat Lynch.

As described in the Field Guide to the Plants of Outback South Australia, this common species typically occurs in tablelands with heavy clay soils with a stone or gibber cover (but also in floodouts/watercourses) growing up to 1.2m high. Green in colour, its leaves are flat and in Australia, this common species typically occurs in tablelands with heavy clay soils with a stone or gibber cover (but also in floodouts/watercourses) growing up to 1.2m high. Green in colour, its leaves are flat and ointed with sharp and rough edges reaching anywhere between 7.5-25cm. The seeds within the flower head are wide and consist of two closely packed rows of “closely overlapping spikelets existing on the one axis ”.

“Because the grass is perennial and grows as tussocks it is an important component of grassland communities and ecosystems and can tolerate grazing pressure” said Cat.

Using its shallow and deep dual root system Mitchell Grass can tolerate drought and is able to survive in the driest of conditions.

“Its ability to respond quickly after rain [also] makes it a valuable resource for native herbivores and seed eaters such as hopping mice and plains rats, as well as our re-introduced species”.

‘Plant of the Week’: Astrebla pectinata - just one of the many species benefiting from our recent bout of rain.

Keep an eye out for Mitchell Grass and, as our intern Bianca Amato (last in charge of ‘Plant of the Week’) would say: 

“Study it, learn it, love it and make it feel welcome”.

 

Dr. D. Orr and Dr. D. Phelps, Mitchell Grasses, Pastures Australia, http://www.pasturepicker.com.au/Html/Mitchell_grasses.htm  Dec. 2008

F.Kutsche, B. Lay, Field Guide to the Plants of Outback South Australia, 2003

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Servive, Looking after biodiversity in the Mitchell Grass Downs, http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/register/p00843aa.pdf, Aug. 2000 

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