a look at Entwood's diverse plant life
A list of flora and fauna species observed thus far at Entwood, with further detailed information and images linked to courtesy of Ellura Sanctuary
Spring is short here, but spectacular, with the area transformed into a colourful landscape. Our dominant species are the Mallee Eucalypts and the various saltbush.
Pollen, flowers, seed, foliage and wood are all potential food sources for a variety of creatures. At Entwood, pollen and flowers are available from a large number of species (too numerous to elaborate here) throughout the year; eg. Mallee in Winter, Melaleuca in Autumn/Summer and Acacia in Spring.
Pollen and flowers are utilised by birds, insects, mammals and reptiles. This, in turn, aids in plant propagation. Seeds are another valuable food source and many need to pass through the gut of an animal before they will germinate.
Foliage, however, is the major food of many Sanctuary species. Native grasses and bushes are the main food of the herbivores (wombats and kangaroos) but are consumed by reptiles, birds and insects as well. Leaves are another staple for many species and are often homes for insect larvae which in turn become food for birds, bats and other insects.
The same applies to wood, which is eaten by many insects. eg Termites, themselves food for echidnas. As well as grubs that hide under bark and are hunted by birds; such as treecreepers and sitellas.
At ground level we have non vascular plants such as lichens that can be valuable food sources, especially in times of drought.
It's hard to over-emphasise the importance of shelter to wildlife.
The importance of hollows in old growth Mallee has been mentioned previously on this site, but generally speaking, a Mallee tree is a sort of hotel for wildlife. It provides much needed shade in Summer and some protection from the elements in Winter. It can be a place where creatures observe and hunt from. It houses nests and roosts for birds, insects and animals that don't necessarily use hollows.
Under bark live insects, and inside trees live termites. Leaf litter provides shelter for an array of life including insects, reptiles, fungi, lichens and liverworts.
Low shrubs/bushes are also valuable shelter for wildlife. Kangaroos rest in their shade during the day. Prickly bushes provide ideal hiding/nesting sites for small bird, reptile and insect species, to escape predators.
Material is collected from vegetation by many species to be woven into their nests. Vegetation becomes the infrastructure for spiders to build their webs to live in and to capture their food.
Importantly, during photosynthesis, plants use up carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, which is released to the atmosphere. They help conserve moisture and many animals rely on them solely for their moisture intake (eg. wombats).
Many species that are plant eaters become a food source themselves. Insects that eat plants are eaten by birds, reptiles, bats and other insects. Often these species are, in turn, eaten by larger species such as raptors, snakes etc.
Consequently we see that plants are the foundation of the food chain and are essential to life on earth.