of northern Victoria and the southern Riverina
Some of the best indigenous plants for gardens and plantations
By planting plants of our own region we
are providing a habitat for native birds and insects, and maintaining
something of the character of the region. This is particularly
important on farmland and near bushland. By 'planting local'
we are also helping maintain the balance of nature. Local plants
are usually resistant to local insect pests and may therefore
be easier to grow. Furthermore, local plants cannot become garden
escapes, environmental weeds, which may be costly to remove from
riversides and bushland. Some introduced plants, even some from
other parts of Australia, can become environmental weeds or may
demand precious water and fertilisers. Growing indigenous plants
helps conserve biological diversity. Most urban gardens consist
almost entirely of non-local plants: continue to grow attractive
introduced and non-local plants by all means, but consider changing
the blend to include at least some plants of your local area.
No two native plant enthusiasts are likely to agree on the ten best for garden cultivation in our region. But let's give it a whirl.
Click here for the top 10 plants for farm and roadside plantations
The top ten garden plants
Gold Dust Wattle usually
grows to about 2 metres in height and width although a prostrate
form from Wychitella is available from Goldfields Revegetation
Nursery in Mandurang. It grows in bushland throughout the region
covered by this site. Frequent light (stem tip) pruning is recommended. Water
occasionally during dry spells. Despite common belief, wattles
do not cause or aggravate hay fever (introduced grasses, house
mites, cats and horse hair are more likely culprits). As shown
in the photo, native grasses, Everlastings and other small plants
can be grown around and in front of this plant. Hop Bushes and
Eremophilas can provide contrast.
EMU BUSHES or Eremophilas (Eremophila means 'desert loving')
are one of Australia's most common inland shrubs but, possibly
because they dislike the climate of Melbourne and Sydney , aren't
as widely grown in local gardens as they deserve to be. Eremophilas
come in many forms. The flowers range in colour from mauve to scarlet to yellow. Different species have different coloured and different shaped leaves. Several decades ago, a farmer near Piangil had an arboretum
of Eremophilas. A nursery at Pooncarie 'near' Broken Hill propagates
lots of different ones. Several Eremophila species are often on sale at local farmers' markets.
Eremophila longifolia is indigenous to northern Victoria and southern Riverina. It grows
up to two metres and about a metre wide.
Eremophila nivea is not a local native so it is disqualified. But it grows really well in local gardens;
it has silver leaves and mauve-red flowers. A ground-cover with
green leaves and yellow or red flowers.
Eremophila maculata is one of the most popular Eremophilas and mentioned here because it is available in most nurseries. One form has bright scarlet flowers for much of the year.
Although hardy once established, Eremophilas need to be watered a few times soon after they have been planted out.
Hop Bush is an interesting plant insofar as the foliage may appear
to turn red or brown during the spring, adding contrast to your
garden. There are several forms available from local native plant
nurseries; subspecies spatulata is the variety found in local
Hop Bush grows about two metres high and a metre wide.
Very hardy when established but water occasionally during dry spells.
Having said that, this shrub is common in many inland areas. It is not at all popular with graziers who regard it as a weed because it is not palatable to stock and because it may take over grassland.
During the prolonged drought which has afflicted the region, many Grevillea plants in home gardens have died. There are, however, a few species which are quite hardy and which are worth considering.
In Australia, there are more species (about 500) of Grevillea than any other apart from Eucalypts and Acacias. However, when cultivars and hybrids are taken into account, Grevillea comes first with over 1,000 types. Over 300 of the 500 species are native to the south-[west corner of Western Australia. Most of the other species are found in sandy or stony soils. Grevilleas dislike riverine plains and no species of Grevillea grows naturally within 50km of Echuca-Moama. However, some species grow on the edge of the region this site covers.
First described by Major Mitchell who observed it growing near the top of Mt. William in the Grampians (hence the misnomer alpina which means alpine), Grevillea alpina, grows in The Whipstick, near Tooborac, in the Warby Range and elsewhere in the wider regio; it is one of the hardier Grevilleas. But it likes watering well during dry spells.
The spider-like flowers
of this Grevillea vary in colour, from region to region, from
orange through to scarlet. It usually grows a metre or so height
but older plants in the Warby Range are over two metres in height.
Although suitable for a large container, it is best grown in a
Cassia (Punty Bush) (Senna artemisioides ssp. zygophylla; formerly called Cassia eremophylla) may be mistaken for a wattle because yellow
flowers cover it in Spring. But the flowers are larger and of
a different shape. Seed pods cover the plant after flowering. A hardy, compact shrub, it grows to a metre
or so in height and width. It can be lightly pruned. Water young plants
a few times at increasing intervals. Very hardy once established.This is a reasonably common plant along the sides of the Murray Valley Highway north-west of Echuca.
6. Weeping Pittosporum (Pittosporum angustifolium)
Weeping Pittosporum (Pittosporum angustifolium; formerly called Pittosporum phyllarioides)
are familiar with Pittosporum undulatum or Mock Orange.
it is regarded as a weed in local bushland. P. undulatum is not indigenous to our region but comes from bushland along Australia's east coast.
The local Pittosporum, which is found over a wide area of inland Australia and which even grows in depressions on the Nullarbor Plain, is
a much more attractive tree, thinner, with drooping branches.
Weeping Pittosporum grows over two metres high. Initially, it
is not very wide but suckers may grow, giving it more width. It can
be grown alongside, but a few metres away from, a boundary fence.
This small tree can be found
in many of the bushland areas of northern Victoria and the southern Riverina as
well as in the Mallee national parks and even in 'dongas' (depressions)
on the Nullarbor Plain ~ it's very hardy.
7. Whirrakee Wattle (Acacia williamsonii)
You can help conserve an plant which only grows in a limited part of our region.
Found only in the forests
near Bendigo, Whirrakee Wattle grows over two metres in height
and width. It is attractive when in blossom. It tolerates gravelly
and clay soils. The photo to the left was taken in Kamarooka Forest, the northern section of Greater Bendigo National Park. It probably grows better in the home garden where it benefits from better soil and watering than it does in the bush.
In cultivation, it can become a dense shrub.
Some regard Whirrakee Wattle as on of the best wattles for horticulture.
8. Bushy Needlewood (Hakea decurrens)
If you want to deter people from cutting a corner, this is the plant for you. Hakea decurrens, previously regarded as a form of Hakea sericea has needle-like leaves. It grows to about two metres in height and width. It bears small, cream, perfumed flowers.
A clump of this species will provide protection for small birds.
9. Common Fringe Myrtle (Calytrix tetragona)
Common Calytrix grows over much of south-eastern Australia. It can be seen growing on the sandhills of Gulpa Island, in the forests around Bendigo, in the Warby Range
and on sandhills in the mallee parks. It grows to about one and a
half metres high and about a metre wide. Pink stars cover this
fine-leaved plant in Spring. This plant prefers sandy loam rather
Many of the plants in the bush have died during the prolonged drought but seem to thrive in the home garden where they benefit from occasional watering. Suitable for small gardens.
10. Rough Mint Bush (Prostanthera denticulata)
Bush Prostanthera denticulata (1m by 1m) is a small shrub with mauve flowers over Spring. Unlike most Mint Bushes, this species tolerates dry periods well.This is a dainty shrub just a metre or so in height and width. It is very hardy. It grows to the south of the region, in the Whipstick.
Dash. Ten good plants have been listed and there are so many others that deserved to be included. The following could be used if any of the above are unsuitable for your needs, or unobtainable:
Scarlet Mint Bush (Prostanthera aspalathoides)
This low-growing bushy shrub has dark green, crowded leaves. The foliage is aromatic when crushed. Scarlet flowers appear over Spring and Summer. Pruning is recommended. Some of the Mint Bushes do not survive well in our climate, so beware of non-indigenous species.
Poles (Violet Honey Myrtle) (Melaleuca wilsonii)
This shrub to about two metres has attractive mauve
bottle-brush like flowers for a long period during Spring. It
grows in the forests around Bendigo and appreciates an occasional
good watering during extended dry periods. I reckon many enthusiasts would have included Totem Poles in their top ten.It grows in the southern part of the region, e.g. in the Whipstick.
Hakea-like Wattle (Acacia hakeoides)
Some wattles are short-lived. No
this one. Some plants in our region are over 50 years old.
small tree, which resembles a Hakea, grows about three metres
high and a few metres wide. Unless lightly pruned from time to
time, it may get leggy/woody.
Don't plant it where the leaves
can fall into spouting. Most impressive when in flower.
Ten indigenous plant replacements for weed species
Some garden plants, both introduced and native, are regarded as weeds. Unfortunatelly, some allow these weeds to grow in their garden or plantation. The list which follows is of ten weed species and ten indigenous plants which are somewhat similar in appearance and which may be used as replacements.
|Weed (non-local plants)
Agapanthus Agapanthus orientalis
Dwarf Flax Lilly Dianella revolta
Bridal Creeper Vine Asparagus asparagoides
Small-leaf Clematis Clematis microphylla
Boxthorn Lycium ferocissimum
Australian Box Thorn Lycium australe
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
Sweet Bursaria Bursaria spinosa
Cootamundra Wattle Acacia baileyana
Hickory Wattle Acacia implexa
Cotoneaster Cotoneaster divaricata
Hop Bush Dodonaea viscosa ssp cuneata
Desert Ash Fraximus rotundifolia
Red Box Eucalyptus polyanthemos
Peppercorn Schinus molle
Grey Box Eucalyptus microcarpa
Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulatum
Weeping Pittosporum Pittoporum angustifolium
Willow Salix species
Boree Acacia pendula
There are lots of other good native plants from the region. There are two other pages about them. There is a page just on Whipstick Plants and a page on indigenous plants of northern Victoria and the southern Riverina.
When growing indigenous plants in a garden,
don't assume that indigenous plants require neither maintenance
nor watering during dry times. They do.
When designing a native garden, don't fall into the
trap of planting too many trees and large shrubs, especially near
fences and the house! Big trees on town blocks may mean costly
tree-removalists may have to be employed one day. Leave room,
especially near the front of a garden, for the small, hardy, colourful
Native grasses can add interest to your garden but introduced
weeds will need to be weeded or kept at bay with mulch, e.g. sawdust
or red gum chips.
Using pavers and red gum chips can create a
professional effect as the following picture I took the photo in a public
garden in a Brisbane suburb. Each 'front garden' along a street in the gardens had a different type of garden, one had a cottage garden of native plants, one was a European-style garden using natives,another was a rainforest garden and so on. All the gardens had paving, retaining walls and so on.
These references may help you design a native garden, but consider substituting local area (indigenous) plants for those listed in these books:
Paul; Urquhart and Leigh Clapp, The new native garden: designing with Australian plants (Landsdowne 1999; reprinted by New Holland 2002)
Diana Snape, The Australian garden: designing with Australian plants (Bloomings Books 2002)
Please seek advice from a specialist indigenous plant nursery and/or from the Department of Primary industry and/or publications before deciding which plants to include in a plantation. Soil type must be taken into account. Ideally, the plants should be grown from seed collected locally. This list is indicative only.
The top ten indigenous plants for dryland farm and road plantations
CLAY AND LOAM SOILS
Grey Box Eucalyptus microcarpa. This is a large dominant tree so space individual specimens well apart. Best on red/brown earths.
Hop Bush Dodonaea viscosa ssp cuneata. This is a small shrub which grows amongst other plants. Not palatable to stock.
Gold-dust Wattle Acacia acinacea. Helps fix nitrogen for the eucalypts. Colourful display in spring.
Cooba Acacia salicina. A broad-crowned tree with dark, green drooping foliage. Will sucker if stock are excluded (if is palatable to stock).
Boree Acacia pendula. This is an ornamental tree with grey leaves drooping to the ground (if protected from stock). Grows well amidst Grey Box and helps the Box by fixing nitrogen from the air.
Western Black Wattle Acacia hakeoides. This small tree is very hardy and attractive when in bloom.
Old Man Saltbush Atriplex nummularia. A spreading shrub to three metres, the blue-grey leaves of which add colour and character to a plantation. The leaves are edible. Old Man Saltbush is regarded as a fire-retardant plant.
Weeping Pittosporum (aka Butterbush) Pittosporum angustifolium. A small tree to six metres with drooping foliage ideal for under-planting in windbreaks. Will sucker if protected from stock.
Bull Oak Allocasuarina luehmannii. This is a medium to large tree which is effective if planted in a clump. Will sucker if protected from grazing stock.
Desert Cassia Senna artemissiodes. This small shrub resembles a wattle when in flower but, at close range, the yellow flowers are obviously different. brown pods form after flowering. Once a few plants are established, it is self-seeding.
Adding a few other species to the mix and which are suitable for the soil and your needs is a good idea. Seek advice from your preferred nursery and/or from the Department of Primary Industry.
SAND AND SANDY LOAM SOILS
White Cypress Pine Callitris glaucophylla. This is a tall tree prone to falling during strong winds, so plant away from buildings. On sandhills near the Murray River, plant the Murray Pine subspecies C glaucophylla murrayensis.
Yellow Box Eucalyptus melliodora. A large spreading tree which prefers lighter soil types.
Needlewood Hakea leucoptera (5m). Suckers may form thickets. This plant has needle-like leaves.
Hooked Needlewood Hakea tephrosperma (5m). This shrub is very similar in appearance to Hakea leucoptera.
Weeping Pittosporum (aka Butterbush) Pittosporum angustifolium. A small tree to six metres with drooping foliage ideal for under-planting in windbreaks. Will sucker if protected from stock.
Wilga Geijera parvifolia. This is a medium-sized tree with dense foliage which is good as a windbreak. It is not common in the region. It will grow on a variety of soils but prefers a sandy loam.
Emu Bush Eremophila longifolia (about 4m). This tall shrub has red spotted flowers and is useful as a windbreak. It is palatable to stock and attracts bush birds. Emus spread the seed and provide fertiliser for seedlings through their droppings.
Sugarwood Myoporum platycarpum (9m). This smallish tree has drooping leaves and spreads by suckering if it is protected from stock and kangaroos.
Grey Mulga Acacia brachybotrya (3 metres). This wattle is a dense, spreading shrub withy greyish leaves. It regenerates readily at times if protected from stock and kangaroos.
Hop Bush Dodonaea viscosa ssp cuneata. This is a small shrub which grows amongst other plants. The 'hops' turn shades of brown. Not palatable to stock.
Adding a few other suitable species to the mix is a good idea. Seek the advice of a specialist nursery and/or from the Department of Primary Industry.
MOISTER SOILS (e.g. alongside irrigated pasture, in depressions and water courses)
Black Box Eucalyptus largiflorens (tree to 20m). A good shade and shelter tree for heavier soils. Can withstand occasional flooding.
River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis (large tree). Requires flooding over several days or weeks once every year or so. Common alongside local rivers and water courses.
Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata Goes together well with River Red Gum.
River Cooba Acacia stenophylla. This is tree grows to eight metres and has long drooping leaves. It will withstand periodic flooding an moderate salinity.
Cooba (aka Native Willow) Acacia salicina (15m).
Moonah Melaleuca lanceoloata. Good for shelter belts and saline areas. Suitable for most, if not all, soil types.
Yarran Acacia homalophylla. This is an upright-growing tree to seven metres which will form clumps from suckers if protected from stock.
Dwarf Native Cherry Exocarpus stricta. This shrub is a semi-parasitic on the roots of River Red Gum and some other plants. It is next to impossible to cultivate and so it is probably necessary to rely on natural regeneration. It is common growing with River Red Gum along local rivers.
River Bottle Brush Callistemon sieberi This plant is now rare but grows well if protected from stock.
Hickory Wattle (aka Lightwood) Acacia implexa. This is a small tree but its height varies from a few metres to 15 metres. It is drought tolerant and long-lived.
When planning a plantation, it is terrific if it can link to areas of established bush, especially if it will provide a wildlife corridor by linking two or more bush areas together.
It may be a good idea to fence around some existing indigenous trees and allowing natural regeneration to occur. Supplementary plantings can be of shrubs that do not regenerate naturally within the fenced area.
If the planting is to be alongside a boundary line or roadside, it is best if the plantation can be several rows wide.
If a plantation is to be longer than it is wide, it may be appropriate if the longer section is at ninety degrees to the direction of the prevailing wind, i.e. if the plantation runs roughly roughly north-south, thereby providing shade and wind protection on the eastern side.
Noisy Miners like to inhabit the corners and edges of bushland from where they chase other bush birds. Therefore, a large oval-shaped plantation is preferable to a long, skinny one.
The trees and shrubs selected for different areas of a property or plantation should, in some cases, be different to take into account differences in soil type and drainage.
Consideration might be given to the inclusion of species which have value for their timber.
The following references may be of use when planning a plantation:
Martin Driver and marianne Porteners The use of locally-native trees and shrubs in the southern Riverina (free publication distributed by Greening Australia through Landcare groups)
City of Greater Bendigo and Bendigo Native Plant Group, Indigenous Plants of Bendigo. Download as pdf files.
G W Cunningham et al, Plants of western NSW.