The Unique Flora and Fauna of Australia

Two Masked Lapwings are foraging at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney

Yesterday we visited the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. We were looking for a place to get away from the crowds  at the Opera House and we discovered the gardens next door. It was such a nice park and we had a great afternoon playing with the kids. One of the best things for me living in Perth when Nadia was getting her degree were the unique flora and fauna. Most of the birds and plants are only found in Australia or in the region.

One of my favorite plant genera is Banksia. As you can see in the photo above, they are very distinctive looking and all but 1 of of the 170 species are endemic to Australia. They look like toilet brushes and come in colors ranging from yellow to red. They are popular garden plants here because of the flowers and they also attract animals because of their reliable nectar production.

Another genus of the Proteaceae family (Macadamias also belong to this family) is the famous cultivar, the Ned Kelly Grevillea. It is named after the bush ranger (Kelly is like Jessie James) or outlaw. The plant is commonly grown in home gardens.

Another strange plant is the Grass Tree or “Black Boy”. It is a member of the Xanthorrhoea genus and is also endemic to Australia. “Black boy” is viewed today as a derogatory term, and early settlers named the plant so because of its resemblance to and Aboriginal holding a spear.

Finally, on my run this morning through the expensive looking suburb of Chatswood, near the Harold Reid Reserve, I found this Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita). It was eating something in the grass next to the road. I was able to approach it very closely and so I suspect it is an escaped pet. I was reading they are adaptable to human habitat and are common in the suburbs of Australian cities.

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