Diversity on the roadside

May 24, 2024 | Environmental Education, General News, Stories

by Jolandie Buck (GCBR Extension Officer)

Have you ever wondered how much plant diversity there really is on the road verge?

While travelling along a 16km stretch of dirt road, I noted 73 different plant species and identified many spiders, insects, birds and more.

There were a couple of eye-catching flowers that really stood out with their colour. These easy to see species were Ericas, bulbines, Cobra lilies, Fine felicias, Cape Aloe and the candelabra aloe. Then there was the tall khaki weed (Wild Marigold) that filled the air with their delightful, sweet scent.

Some plants found along the road have wonderful uses like the bulbine that is used to treat skin conditions like eczema and rashes. Chicory was also a prominent species along the way, this plant is entirely edible but is mostly known for its roots that are baked, roasted and ground as a coffee alternative. The Helichrysum species found along the road are known to repel insects like mosquitos and can be used to treat many different ailments.

A number of invasive and alien species can also be found on the road verge, those that were seen on this stretch of road included prickly pears, western coastal wattle, black wattle and common lantana.

Insects seen included two types of jumping spiders, dark sheet webber spiders, lady bugs and the caterpillars of the Barred eggarlet.

Next time you drive take the time, stop and have a look at what is around you. You might be surprised how much you see.

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