Ilparpa Claypans FloraAnnual Yellowtop (Senecio gregorii) Apple Bush (Pterocaulon sphacelatum) Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) Button grass (Dactyloctenium radulans) Centipeda crateriformis Cyperus sp Goatshead Burr (Sclerolaena bicornis) Golden Everlasting (Xerochrysum bracteatum) Invisible Plant (Siemssenia capillaris) Longtails (Ptilotus polystachyus) Nardoo (Marsilea drummondii) Pink Everlasting (Schoenia cassiniana) Polycarpaea corymbosa var brevifolia Red Pussytail (Ptilotus polystachyus) Schenkia australis Small-Leaf Swainson-Pea (Swainsona microphylla) Tiny Purslane (Calandrinia pumila) Tiny Purslane (White form) Variable Daisy (Brachyscome ciliaris) Wahlenbergia capillaris Yellow Billybutton (Calocephalus platycephalus)

The Australian Bluebell belongs to the family Campanulaceae, genus Wahlenbergia, that includes both annuals and perennials.

Wahlenbergia capillaris, Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT
Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT

The species have since gone through a number of reclassification including those found in Central Australia and Northern Territory. The watercolour on paper sketch in 1930 by Olive Pink, Northern Territory was identified by Olive Pink as Wahlenbergia gracilis.1

The Tufted Bluebell, listed in The Alice Springs Bush Regeneration Handbook (2012), was classified then as Wahlenbergia communis.2

In Central Australia the Tufted Bluebell is classified as Wahlenbergia capillaris, although it can still be found listed under Wahlenbergia gracilis and Wahlenbergia communis.

Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT
Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT

Also known as Native Bluebell, there are known to be several species in Central Australia-Northern Territory, with the bluebells being distinguished by the leaves (lower leaves alternate or opposite), the size and shape of the flower petals, and the shape of the seed capsule.

Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT
Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT

The habitat of Wahlenbergia capillaris is widespread, found in all mainland states and territories of Australia. It is especially common in disturbed sites and along roadsides. Usually growing during the cooler months, although germination and growth can occur after favourable rains during the warmer seasons.

Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT
Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT

At time of writing, this plant classification has been changed from Wahlenbergia gracilis to Wahlenbergia communis on the University of Tasmania website resource for the Estate of Olive Pink.

Further re-classification has the following (researched on the Wikipedia website):

The tufted bluebell was first formally described in 1839 by George Loddiges who gave it the name Campanula capillaris and published the description in The Botanical Cabinet. In 1839, George Don changed the name to Wahlenbergia capillaris.

Roger Carolin rejected the name Campanula capillaris because Loddiges’ description was inadequate, and in 1965 Carolin gave the species the name Wahlenbergia communis. In 2016, Ian Turner resurrected Loddiges’ name and the change has been accepted by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families and the Australian Plant Census. The specific epithet (capillaris) is a Latin word meaning “of hair”.

Wahlenbergia capillaris, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahlenbergia_capillaris
Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT
Tufted Bluebell (Wahlenbergia capillaris), Ilparpa Claypans, Alice Springs NT

  • Scientific Classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Phylum: Charophyta
  • Class: Equisetopsida
  • Subclass: Magnoliidae
  • Superorder: Asteranae
  • Order: Asterales
  • Family: Campanulaceae
  • Genus: Wahlenbergia
  • Species: Wahlenbergia capillaris

Footnote & References

  1. Pink, Olive 1930 , Olive Pink Collection. Watercolour on paper sketched by Olive Pink, Northern Territory, 1930. Identified by Olive Pink as Wahlenbergia gracilis, University of Tasmania Library, Special & Rare Materials Collections, Hobart.
  2. Wahlenbergia communis, Tufted Bluebell, The Alice Springs Bush Regeneration Handbook, by Andy Vinter, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-646-58810-0, p84
  3. Wahlenbergia capillaris, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahlenbergia_gracilis (last visited Dec. 26, 2020)

Ilparpa Claypans FloraAnnual Yellowtop (Senecio gregorii) Apple Bush (Pterocaulon sphacelatum) Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) Button grass (Dactyloctenium radulans) Centipeda crateriformis Cyperus sp Goatshead Burr (Sclerolaena bicornis) Golden Everlasting (Xerochrysum bracteatum) Invisible Plant (Siemssenia capillaris) Longtails (Ptilotus polystachyus) Nardoo (Marsilea drummondii) Pink Everlasting (Schoenia cassiniana) Polycarpaea corymbosa var brevifolia Red Pussytail (Ptilotus polystachyus) Schenkia australis Small-Leaf Swainson-Pea (Swainsona microphylla) Tiny Purslane (Calandrinia pumila) Tiny Purslane (White form) Variable Daisy (Brachyscome ciliaris) Wahlenbergia capillaris Yellow Billybutton (Calocephalus platycephalus)

Ilparpa ClaypansIlparpa Claypans Fauna Ilparpa Claypans Flora Ilparpa Claypans Landscape

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