Austral Brooklime (Gratiola peruviana)

Four species of Brooklime are found in our area. Three of them are on the threatened plants list, but this one is common.

Investigating the species of plants which are naturally re-vegetating the dam bank, I was pleased to discover that the most plentiful plant is a native species:  Austral Brooklime.  The seeds of this plant are apparently long-lived and can remain dormant in soil until the right conditions occur.

The flowers are tiny – approximately 3mm to 4mm across, and the pedecils can be up to 12mm long.  I’ve noticed that some flowers are almost white while others have a pale pink look.  Flowers of both colours have ‘veined’ lines in the petals which appear to be red to burgundy in colour.  The petals are at the end of a tube.  If you look carefully you can see two petals on the back or upper lip of the tube and three petals on the front or lower lip of the tube.  Each petal has a notch at the top which leaves the impression that it is two petals fused together.    Putting all of this together, the Brooklime flowers are quite distinctive.

According to Enid Mayfield’s guide Flora of the Otway Plain and Ranges 2, there are at least five species of Brooklime growing in Australia, and approximately 20 species worldwide.  The VicVeg website lists four species of Brooklime as native to our area.  Three of these are on the threatened plant list, but the one growing around our dam is widespread, found all around Australia, and quite common here too. This inspires me to look more carefully in the hope that we may have a threatened species of Brooklime too.  I’ve noticed there is a bit of variation in the way these plants look.  I need to do a bit more research first, so that I know the difference in the details I am seeking.

As you can see, when the plant establishes, it forms a good ground cover.

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