Today we went on a nature walk with some other home schooling families in the Tangari Regional Park. It is about 60 hectares of native woodland which contains large sections of remnant vegetation and gives a good idea of what the Adelaide plains would have looked like before European settlement in the 1830′s. We had Jason with us from Natural Resources Management who shared his local knowledge with us. It was such a great time and kids and adults alike all learned something.
We learned to identify some native grasses and trees, as well as some weeds. This is a weed:
While this next one is not. The easy way to tell the difference is the shape of the seed heads. This native grass is called Kangaroo Grass (themeda triandra)
Next up is acacia pycnantha, whose common name is Golden Wattle. It’s Australia’s floral emblem. It isn’t in flower at the moment but is known for it’s bright yellow (hay fever inducing) blossoms. We also learned that the Kaurna people (the local indigenous people) called it the ‘shut up’ tree. For children who talked too much, they would use the leaves (I think) to make their mouths go dry so they’d stop talking so much. When the acacia pycnantha is young it’s leaves look like pigs ears.
This little easily missed plant is a Sundew (drosera). It’s is carnivorous plant and likes to eat insects. If you look up close you can see little sticky hairs on it’s leaves.
Then we learned about Kangaroo Thorn or acacia paradoxia. The Kaurna people used the thorns from this plant to cure warts, by sticking the spines into the warts. We don’t seem to have a photo of this one.
We learned about the importance of tree hollows for bats and birds, and that there are about 8 species of bats in South Australia. I didn’t know this, and have never seen one here. Tree hollows only form in very old trees, and so many native vertebrate species are now threatened partly because of land clearing.
Someone found this moth casing.
And we saw a big ants nest:
We also compared native and non-native pine. This first picture is non-native, and the second one is a native pine. (I’m not sure but I think it is Callitris columellaris)
We took a close look and compared a couple of gum trees to learn how to identify a Blue Gum. I am now a little muddled about the ones we looked at, but here are the various nuts:
There was wildlife around too. Along with the common Magpies, we saw Rosellas, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, a single Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo and while we didn’t see one, there was evidence of echidna diggings.
A few minutes drive down the road (on Tripodi Road, Woodcroft for locals who might want to see it), is this massive Red Gum, estimated to be about 400 years old. It’s right in the middle of suburbia, and crosses the boundary of someone’s house so they have fenced right up to it on either side. There’s a tiny reserve the size of a house block, presumably to protect this grand old tree. It’s nice to know it wasn’t just cut down to make space for one more house in the development.