Journal Number 104
August 2007

By David McConachie

Recovery After Burn-off Near Mt Lofty
By Rosalie Lawrence (from NOSSA Journal, Vol.30, no.11 December 2006)

A NOSSA excursion was organised for 1 pm on Saturday 18 November. Susan Secomb and the Lawrence family turned up for the event and pooled their plant identification skills as best they could. Though a warm day, it was a pleasant stroll down to the burnt area which was located just over the road on the Cleland side 400m west of Mount Lofty summit. It is primarily stringy-bark woodland.

There was an appreciable difference between the unburnt and burnt area as we cast our eyes over both sites. One was thick, dull dense undergrowth with a dark aspect whilst the burnt area was light lush and verdant with the sun softly streaming through - a most inviting place. So, in spite of drought conditions since a controlled burn earlier this year, considerable regrowth has taken place.

The main objective, of course, was to find evidence of orchids, although we were not expecting to find much. It was therefore with great delight that we eventually found some capsules of Thelymitra species. All told there were about six locations found along the tracks at the edge of the controlled burn. No evidences of Thelymitra sp were seen along the track in the middle of the burnt area as also was none seen on the unburnt side of the peripheral tracks.

Though looked for, it was disappointing not to find any shoots of Dipodium roseum. We had observed some on 5th December 2005 in the vicinity of the youth hostel near the margin of the area that has been burnt since.

Apart from orchids, many species of plants had either germinated or regrown in the burnt area. Black Rapier Sedge had recovered and small plants were ubiquitous. Trigger plants in flower were striking whereas gentian blue Lobelia flowers were a surprising find, almost hidden from view. Tussock Grasses (Poa species) were common. Banksia seedlings were abundant in many areas, as were Holy-leaf Flat Pea (Platylobium obtusangulum). Lomandra tussocks had recovered well and some were flowering. Fresh regrowth of Native Cherry (Exocarpos cupressiformis) had occurred at the base of the burnt remains. A total of 36 native species of understorey plants was noted in the burnt area.

Not many conclusions could be drawn from only one visit and we could only assume that the burnt area resembled the surrounding bush before. It will be interesting, however, to monitor this site in the future, especially to see which orchids come up and flower next year. Being so close to the city it should be convenient to monitor.




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