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Plants of the Victorian High Country: A Field Guide for Walkers

Plants of the Victorian High Country: A Field Guide for Walkers

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Plants of the Victorian High Country: A Field Guide for Walkers

218 pages
1 hour
Oct 1, 2018


Plants of the Victorian High Country allows walkers with little botanical knowledge to identify plants they are likely to encounter along the popular tracks of Victoria's High Country.

This Second Edition has been revised and expanded to describe 133 plants from the montane, sub-alpine and alpine zones, categorising them into five easily distinguished groups: herbs, daisy herbs, low woody shrubs, tall shrubs and trees, and eucalypts. The guide features a glossary of botanical terms, straightforward identification keys, clear photos of the leaves, flowers and stems of the plant, and includes notes on Aboriginal plant usage.

If you are a nature lover, planning to walk in the Victorian High Country, this book is an essential addition to your backpack.

Oct 1, 2018

About the author

John Murphy is the founder and CEO of Venture Management Consultants, Inc., a firm specializing in creating lean, high-performance work environments. As a business consultant, John has worked with some of the world’s leading organizations, including ADP, BMW, Chase, the Michigan State Senate, the CIA, and the US Navy. He is the author of more than nineteen books and has trained thousands of people from more than fifty countries. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida.

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Plants of the Victorian High Country - John Murphy

Plants of the Victorian High Country


Plants of the Victorian High Country

A Field Guide for Walkers


© John Murphy and Bill Dowling 2018

All rights reserved. Except under the conditions described in the Australian Copyright Act 1968 and subsequent amendments, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, duplicating or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Contact CSIRO Publishing for all permission requests.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the National Library of Australia.

Published by:

CSIRO Publishing

Locked Bag 10

Clayton South VIC 3169


Telephone: +61 3 9545 8400



Front cover: (main image) Bogong high plains; (thumbnail images, left to right) Orites lancifolius, Linum marginale, Grevillea victoriae, Bossiaea disticoclada, Brachyscome nivalis.

Back cover: (left to right) Isotoma axillaris, Bulbine bulbosa, Exocarpos cupressiformis, Caladenia alpine, Chiloglottis valida.

Photographs are by Bill Dowling unless otherwise noted.

Set in 9.5/12 Minion

Edited by Joy Window (Living Language)

Cover design by James Kelly

Typeset by Thomson Digital

Printed in China by 1010 Printing International Ltd.

CSIRO Publishing publishes and distributes scientific, technical and health science books, magazines and journals from Australia to a worldwide audience and conducts these activities autonomously from the research activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of, and should not be attributed to, the publisher or CSIRO. The copyright owner shall not be liable for technical or other errors or omissions contained herein. The reader/user accepts all risks and responsibility for losses, damages, costs and other consequences resulting directly or indirectly from using this information.


CSIRO acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands that we live and work on across Australia and pays its respect to Elders past and present. CSIRO recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made and will continue to make extraordinary contributions to all aspects of Australian life including culture, economy and science.

Original print edition:

The paper this book is printed on is in accordance with the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council®. The FSC® promotes environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests.


About this book

The second edition

How to use the book

Aboriginal people in the High Country


Other useful books

The environment

Flower types

Plant descriptions

Herbs (other than daisies)

Daisy herbs

Low woody shrubs

Tall shrubs and trees



Plants listed by family


About this book

Our aim is to allow walkers with little botanical knowledge to identify the plants they are most likely to encounter. The book is mostly written in plain English, but we have included a glossary and diagrams to explain those botanical terms we could not avoid.

The three basic plant categories are family, genus and species. So the alpine ash, Eucalyptus delegatensis, is:

•in the Myrtaceae family (all family names end in ‘aceae’)

•of the Eucalyptus genus (all genus names are italicised, with the initial letter in capitals)

•the species delegatensis (all species names are italicised, with no capitals).

While the family name is important to help you determine what goes with what, it is not usually given, so scientific names generally consist of two words – in this case, Eucalyptus delegatensis.

Common names like alpine ash are also given where appropriate, but please remember that there are no agreements about common names and that they are often unreliable labels. For example, the Victorian, South Australian and Tasmanian blue gums are actually three different species.

In some cases, individual species can be difficult to distinguish. In these cases we have only identified the genus. Grasses and sedges can be very difficult to identify, so we have not included them in this publication.


Many of the fruits of plants are often beautifully coloured and look edible. However, many species are extremely poisonous and we strongly advise that none should be tasted without expert advice. That birds and mammals eat a fruit is not an indication that it is safe for human consumption. Animals feed on many species that are poisonous to us. The same applies to leaves, flowers and root structures.

The second edition

A field trip in December 2017 produced improved and additional photographs for many of the book’s species and 15 new plants have been added. One hundred and thirty-three species are now described.

The original plant descriptions have been revised and expanded. They are now up to date and consistent with Vicflora, the plant database of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. There have been numerous name changes and family assignments since our first edition. Where appropriate, information on the Aboriginal use of the plants has been added as noted in ‘Aboriginal people in the High Country’ below.

How to use the book

We have selected the most common High Country plants. The book has 133 plant descriptions accompanied by 155 photographs. For ease of identification we have sorted them into five easily distinguished groups:

•herbs (other than daisies)

•daisy herbs

•low woody shrubs

•tall shrubs and trees (other than eucalypts)


To identify a plant:

1. Determine to which of the five groups the plant belongs.

2. Go to the key for that group and follow the key.

3. Go to the page or pages indicated by the key and compare the plant with the descriptions and photos.

Within the descriptions and photos, the plants are arranged by family. The families are in alphabetical order. This allows those who know their plant families to go straight to the family group and look for a particular plant.

This arrangement is also useful for those with less knowledge of plant families, as the common characteristics of a family are frequently (though not always) apparent. For example, all the Goodeniaceae have zygomorphic flowers.

For words like ‘zygomorphic’, go to the glossary.

For convenience, a list of the plants by family and an index are provided at the end of the book.

Aboriginal people in the High Country

Senior Kurnai man, Russell Mullet, notes that Aboriginal people living in the valleys during winter moved up to the high Alps in summer not only for food, but also to avoid wild fires. It is estimated that ~2000 Aboriginal people lived in the Alps in

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