Tom Gibson Nature Reserve fieldtrip

Black Peppermint (Eucalyptus amygdalina) dry woodland at Tom Gibson Nature Reserve

Simultaneously, one of the greatest pains and pleasures of being a botanist is the amount of time it can take to consolidate and write up on the findings of a single field trip. I thought the fieldtrip to the Tom Gibson Nature Reserve among one of those deserving a writeup, at least for the purpose of documenting the botanical ‘lifers’ I had encountered there. I have attached most of the photos in a Picasa web album folder.

The visit to the reserve was made on the 14th of November 2009. The fieldtrip was organized by the Threatened Plants Tasmania group and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and was attended by some twenty or so participants. Among those present were plant experts, namely Richard Schahinger (from DPIPWE), John Davies (from GDH), Mark Wapstra (from ECOTas), Ray Skabo and Phil Collier (TPT president).

The Tom Gibson Nature Reserve is of conservation significance for it’s high botanical diveristy and wealth of rare plants. We visited the southern part of the Tom Gibson Nature Reserve, a 659.8 ha block of beautiful dry eucalypt forest and woodland (See the description by Parks and Wildlife).

Upon entering the reserve we were greeted by a whole forest understorey full of Tiger Orchids (Diuris sulphurea) the likes of which I have never witnessed before. Also in sight were a couple of rare plants including the Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictum) and the endemic Propeller Plant (Stenanthemum pimeleoides), betokening the great botanical treasures to be seen thereafter.

Dwarf Sunray (Triptilodiscus pygmaeus) on a rock plate

We drove in a little further into the center of the reserve and came to a rather dry and drab looking rock plate. Dull as it might have appeared, it was the abode of a number of rare daisies.

One of these was the Moss Sunray (Hyalosperma demissum), a very compact plant that looks like a moss turf. Another was the Dwarf Sunray (Triptilodiscus pygmaeus), a distinctive trailing yellow flowered daisy. Yet another was the Small Wrinklewort (Siloxerus multiflorus), a little herb with small heads of flowers. All of these were extremely diminutive plants scarcely taller than a few centimeters.

Pressing on towwards the western edge of the reserve, we came to distinctive habitat in the reserve, a soak no larger that perhaps 5-10 square meters. Here, Richard Schahinger pointed out a number of threatened plants which included the Small Triggerplant (Stylidium despectum), Tiny Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum integrifolium), the Slender Fanwort (Aphelia gracilis) (see my previous post) and the Tiny Arrowgrass (Triglochin minutissimum).

Stylidium despectum

Closeup of the fowers of the ephemeral Small Triggerplant (Stylidium despectum)

Finally, at the last stop for the day at the northern part of the reserve, we botanized around a rocky grassy spot where we encountered the Dwarf Fanwort (Aphelia pumilio) and the Grassland Candles (Stackhousia subterranea). Other interesting plants there included the Australian Carrot (Daucus glochidiatus). In the vicinity there was also a small soak by the dirt road in which grew a healthy population of an interesting fern ally, the Plain Quillwort (Isoetes drummondii subsp. drummondii).

Thats 12 rare plants in a day, the bulk of which I was seeing for the first time! Quite frankly, little else excites a botanist than the opportunity to make an acquaintance with new plants. Much thanks to the excellent work of the Threatened Plants Tasmania group, DPIPWE and to foresight of Tom Gibson, the former owner of the land who kept the area intact.

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About David Tng

I am David Tng, a hedonistic botanizer who pursues plants with a fervour. I chase the opportunity to delve into various aspects of the study of plants. I have spent untold hours staring at mosses and allied plants, taking picture of pollen, culturing orchids in clean cabinets, counting tree rings, monitoring plant flowering times, etc. I am currently engrossed in the study of plant ecology (a grand excuse to see 'anything I can). Sometimes I think of myself as a shadow taxonomist, a sentimental ecologist, and a spiritual environmentalist - but at the very root of it all, a "plant whisperer"!
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