The seasonal changes of our native plants can be extreme.
A drive along a particular road can be quite different one week compared to the next for the sharp eyed observer.
Plants that sprout, grow, flower and die all within six months can appear to explode out of the ground, carpeting the roadside verges with colour, before dying off to leave rocky soil covered with drying grass.
The end of the wet season can be a muggy and uncomfortable time of year.
"Knock-em-down" storms of an afternoon are about the only way to clear the air.
Many plants seize upon this late season moisture as a signal that they had better get on with the business of flowering and seed production.
Annual plants are those which will grow, reproduce and die within one year.
Many of our wildflowers are annuals and the unusually beautiful.
The Gomphrena is a great example of an annual that uses the last of the Wet Seasons rains to the best of its advantage.
Gomphrena, called Birwudin by the Wardaman people, are occasionally known as Bush Everlastings.
Their long lasting spiky looking flower heads decorate roadsides with drifts of pink and purple long into the early dry season, when many other less hardy wildflowers have died away until the humidity of the build up signals the arrival of the rains.
Some plants lose up to 90 per cent of the water that their roots take up through a process called transpiration, or evaporation through their leaves.
The hairy leaves and stalks of plants like the tough little Gomphrena minimise the movement of air across the surface of the leaf, decreasing the amount of water lost through transpiration and making it easier for the plant to thrive in dry conditions.
These special adaptations mean that the delicate seeming Gomphrena is superbly adapted to the harsh changeable conditions.
The plants will die once the seeds have matured and fallen to the ground where they will lie dormant, awaiting the heavy rains and saturated soil of the wet season.
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