Walking on Black Mountain just got more interesting

ABC Canberra's Louise Maher spoke to Ngunawal elder, Wally Bell, and convenor of Friends of Black Mountain, Linda Beveridge, about Black Mountain's woodland walk and the new interpretative signage and track markers to encourage people to learn more about some of the nature reserve's 670 plant species.

Visit the ABC Drive website to listen to the interview.

Black Mountain Woodland Walk

The Woodland Walk passes through three vegetation types: dry sclerophyll forest, grassy woodland and grassland. The latter two communities cover less than 5% of the Black Mountain reserve area.

Dry sclerophyll forest

Dry sclerophyll forest is widespread on Black Mountain, and on the Woodland Walk occurs on the slopes above the grassland and grassy woodland vegetation. It is dominated by Brittle Gum (Eucalyptus mannifera), Scribbly Gum (E. rossii) and Red Stringybark (E. macrorhyncha). Red Box (E. polyanthemos) is also present in some areas. Below the trees the dominant Red‑anthered Wallaby Grass (Rytidosperma pallidum) is mixed with a range of shrubs. The more common shrubs include wattles, several pea-flowered shrubs, Daphne Heath (Brachyloma daphnoides), Mountain Grevillea (Grevillea alpina), Silver Teatree (Leptospermum multicaule) and Cauliflower Bush (Cassinia longifolia). Herbaceous plants are a relatively minor component of the community.

Nodding Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium fimbriatum) flowering in spring. Photographer: Rosemary Purdie

Grassland and grassy woodland

The grassland and grassy woodland vegetation occurs on the lower slopes. The trees are less dense than in the dry sclerophyll forest or, in what is now open grassland, absent where they were cleared for stock grazing during Canberra’s early settlement.

The dominant species are Apple Box (Eucalyptus bridgesiana), Yellow Box (E. melliodora), Broad‑leaved Peppermint (E. dives), Blakely’s Red Gum (E. blakelyi) and Red Box (E. polyanthemos). Red Stringybark also occurs along the creek lines that cross the grasslands.

The ground layer of the grassland and grassy woodland is characterised by a wide range of herbaceous plants, with almost 140 species being recorded in this south-west area. The perennial Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) and Redleg Grass (Bothriochloa macra) form a dense sward on the soil surface. Other perennial grasses include wallaby grasses (Rytidopserma spp), speargrasses (Austrostipa spp), Snowgrass (Poa sieberiana) and Wild Sorghum (Sorghum leiocladum). Grass-like plants include Wattle Matrush (Lomandra filiformis subsp. coriacea), sedges, rushes and lilies. Many of the herbaceous species are annuals, short-lived perennials or perennials with underground storage organs that only produce leaves and flowers during spring. The herbaceous species can flower prolifically during October and November, especially after prolonged wet conditions, and transform the grasslands with their brightly coloured flowers.

Shrubs and subshrubs are also present in some areas. Burgan (Kunzea ericoides) and Prickly Teatree (Leptospermum continentale) form dense groves on the western side at the start of the lower Woodland Walk. In the areas east of the dam, Burgan forms a dense band upslope of the track, and is expanding into the grassland. Other species that may be seen include Australian Blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa subsp. lasiophylla), Common Beardheath (Leucopogon virgatus var. virgatus), Daphne Heath, guineaflowers (Hibbertia obtusifolia and H. riparia), Heathy Bushpea (Pultenaea procumbens), Mountain Grevillea, Groundberry (Acrotriche serrulata) and Urn Heath (Melichrus urceolatus).