I SPY AUSTRALIA - Native Flora

Originally published:
Austrailia Runner / Kiwi Trail Runner
March 2017

NOTE:  I Spy was a concept I developed and co-wrote with Vicki Woolley to encourage Australian and New Zealand trail runners to learn more about their running environment. Each edition focused on a different area of interest.


Kirrily Dear gently draws her fellow runners' eyes from the trail to the surrounding foliage.  How well do you know the environment you breeze through almost every day.


There are over 350 species of Grevillea growing in Australia, occurring in a variety of environments from rainforest to dry, open bushland.  With varieties ranging in height from 50cm to 35m, their flowers can be relied upon to bring colour into the forest almost all year round. The distinctive flowers are the best clue that you have spotted a Grevillea. They appear petal-less, with clusters of tubes and segments along the stem. There are different flower configurations commonly known as ‘brush’, ‘toothbrush’ and ‘spider’.  


Our wattles are famous all over the world.  How many varieties can you identify on your next run?  There are around 1000 species for you to spy, with the famous golden wattle being our national floral emblem.  Acacias tend to be more common in dry bushland and woodlands, particularly areas prone to bushfire.  They are easy to spy as Spring approaches but how about testing your skills at other times of year?  Look out for the distinctive foliage with generally comes in two forms; fine ‘bipinnate’ leaves or flattened paddle-like ‘phyllodes’.  Some plants will have a blend of the two.


Do your runs go along wetlands or water courses?  Then there’s every chance you are familiar with the sight of a Melaleuca or ‘paper bark’, which is the characteristic for which they are most famous.  With around 170 species, Melaleuca is a relatively small genus compared to others yet it has become an iconic part of the Australian landscape.  It has also made its way into most households.  What products in your house can you find that contain extracts from Melaleuca?

Kirrily Dear