Who Needs Roses ?
For several years now I have tried to photograph this tiny plant out on a buckshot gravel ridge in the Kara Kara National Park.
A small patch of these 4-5mm high plants is adjacent to one of our conservation plots.
I thought it would be easy to identify- just get a shot or two of the flowers and we would be away! The first year, I missed the flowers- a few tiny dried-up dark-red bits on one plant showed up on the computer screen. The next year, 2016,a wet year, the plants disappeared and White-winged Choughs seemed to be the culprits; beak-shaped holes were everywhere. 2017 came along and I had a good choice of plants to snap when I realised that I needed a supermacro function on the camera. Not good enough- a Panasonic Lumix shot on macro and blown up on the computer.Not enough detail and overexposed.
The use of a digital microscope showed a hairy, cobwebby tube sprouting 5 dark red, 4 or 5 petalled flowers.
So this year, after getting a camera with a super macro function I tried again.
2018 would have to be one of our driest years in the last 4 decades and the ground is bare in many places.
Chough holes are everywhere, grasses are chewed down to their roots and there are few plants of any sort about.
My little mystery is reduced to a few scattered plants on the south-east facing slope amongst Yellow Gums (Euc. leucoxylon). Even through the camera lens it is very difficult to see if there are any flowers so it is a case of point and shoot... and hope, otherwise it takes several trips to get enough shots with the desired features. Here is the first photo taken 26 Aug 2018 with an old Konica Minolta DiMAGE 3- it has great telephoto capability and 2 macro settings- a treasure.
This is the plant with the flower assembly forming in the middle, covered with cobwebby hairs
Flowering today, 9th August, the greeny-white tubes with hairy cobwebs topped with the dark-red of the "petals" makes these flowers nearly impossible to see with the naked eye. Each tubular flower would be 2-3 mm in length.
So, very nice, but what is it? A clue. Common Bow Flower- Millotia tenuifolia, which also grows in the same area.
My bet is Millotia perpusilla- Tiny Bow Flower. It is listed in Beauglehole's Vascular Plant List for our region- North Central. At no more than 5mm tall, the name seems apt.