RIGHT: Tony van Kampen is delighted to find a red ash tree, belonging to the genus Alphitonia, which is the name given to his website.
RIGHT: Tony van Kampen is delighted to find a red ash tree, belonging to the genus Alphitonia, which is the name given to his website. contributed

Quench your yearning to learn plants

MANY of us interested in native wildlife inevitably develop a yearning to learn about local plants.

What species of eucalypt do our locally threatened koalas feed on?

What is an ideal prickly plant for the fairy wrens to hide from marauding butcher birds?

Local botanist and Yengarie resident Tony van Kampen is one person whose botanical knowledge has blossomed. So much so that he has developed a website (alphitonia.com) listing more than 3000 plants occurring in the Fraser Coast region.

This data has been accumulated from various sources, including Queensland Herbarium, published plant lists and a great deal of it from Mr van Kampen's own field work.

As part of the council's Community Environment Program, Mr van Kampen regularly does field trips with other similarly interested enthusiasts seeking plants to expand and improve his database.

He speaks passionately about this task.

"The Fraser Coast region is remarkable for its native plant diversity," he said.

"While subtropical plants are well represented, we have the northern limit of many temperate zone plants and the southern range of many tropical plants.

"There are 85 listed vegetation ecosystems on the Fraser Coast, many of these federally recognised as threatened or even endangered."

So the question is, with such a smorgasbord of plant choices, why do we choose to surround ourselves with gaudy bromeliads and inappropriate succulents, when we could enjoy - along with our local suffering wildlife - plants of the local region that are perfectly adapted to our climate and soils?

The Community Nursery at the Botanic Gardens on Elizabeth Street sells native plants of local provenance on the first Thursday of each month.

Supplied by Peter Duck from Wildlife Queensland, Fraser Coast Branch.