OUR FLOWERS
WHY THEY ARE SO SPECIAL

Every spring we are treated to a sort of arms race in which each species tries to outdo the others in a competition for pollinators. We benefit in that we enjoy this flagrant display.

A few flowers are shown on our front page. More pictures are shown on other pages and on our "Mini-gallery" under "Our Flowers"

There are more than 12,000 different types of wildflowers listed in the flora catalogue for the state. There are many more yet to be discovered and others already known yet to be given names.  Botanists working on the flora can expect to find several new species each year.

Why this diversity?

sheba Many differing pollinating agents are used. Birds are important, and bird-pollinated flowers are large, often red, and have robust stems to provide purchase. The plant gets a double benefit in that most of our honey eaters are also insectivorous. sheba "Flowers" are enlarged in many different ways: sometimes by aggregating flowers into a large inflorescence, sometimes by enclosing them in large bracts, sometimes simply by being large. Small mammals - such as the honey possum - are also important.
sheba Time.WA has been a stable platform since before the origin of flowering plants with little vulcanism or glaciation sheba Isolation. Surrounded on two sides by ocean and on the other two by desert, our plants have evolved in isolation
sheba Some plants avoid the competition by developing specific pollination mechanisms. For example, some orchids, have evolved bizarre schemes such as tricking wasps to think they are copulating with a female wasp. There are many other examples of plants adapted to specific insects, often a species of native bee, and the insect relying on that plant as its food source so they become mutually dependent.  

WA map

The stable granite shield the provides the base on which we live.

sheba Other plants opt to avoid the pollination race by flowering at other times of the year, thus also providing year round food for pollinators  
E. erythrocorys

llyarrie (Eucalyptus erythrocorys) shows many of the typical characteristics - large showy flowers with bright red bud caps, presumably to attract the attention of birds. It flowers in mid summer.

sheba Soils. Long periods of uninterrupted weathering, starting from a low fertility base of granite, have produced soils of extraordinary poverty. Plants have devised a range of strategies to deal with this. 
sheba Climate. Hot dry summers with cool wet winters provide challenges to which plants have adapted in various way.
sheba Pollinators. Bird and mammal pollinators induce large showy flowers