Saturday, January 31, 2015

Turn your pot marigolds into tea. How to make calendula tea.

Calendula tea recipe

I came across this recipe similar to this on a visit to the Geelong botanic gardens. At the time they had a tea garden which featured amongst other plants, calendula. I thought I would write up my quick variation of this recipe to compliment my other post on dandelion coffee. According to info from the gardens drinking calendula tea has been used to treat gastric ulcers and infections of the mouth and throat. It improves digestion, relieves menstrual cramps and helps to relieve liver disease. I have no idea if any of that is actually true but you can believe it if you want :). This tea tastes very mild not bitter and is quite refreshing.

Lots if text I've read states it is important to only use Calendula officianalis (common name pot marigold) and not the other varieties of marigolds (Tagetes) because they may not be edible. Some text I've read states otherwise. Based on my current level of knowledge on the matter I wouldn't risk it at the present time.


A coffee plunger, colander and a grater.


  • 1/4 cup of fresh calendula petals
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Sprinkling of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
  • Boiling water




Steep calendula petals in 1 cup of  boiling water for  5 minutes with the grated orange zest. Add the honey and orange juice. Stir and strain into a cup then sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Plants along the 'Two Bays Bushwalk' from Dromana to Cape Schanck

Two Bays Walking Track 2014

In late December 2014 I was visiting the Monington Peninsula and decided to attempt what is known as the Two Bays walking track. The track is a respectable 26km long and starts in Dromana in the area known as Arthurs seat and ends at the lighthouse in Cape Schanck.

Indigenous plant hunt along the Two Bays Bushwalk

A few days before I trekked the Two Bays walk I had just finished a book about Charles Darwin and the other prominent British naturalists of the 19th century. The tales of botany in that book inspired me to try and locate and identify some indigenous plants. All in all I managed to identify and photograph many more than I expected. I must say that if you are a bit of a plant nerd like me that trying to identify indigenous plants along a walk makes it much more interested and rewarding. It's amazing how being able to identify native plants really opens your eyes as to the diversity of plants in the bushland.

A Xanthorrhoea heaven on earth

The most impressive plants on show along the track were the monstrous Xanthorrhea australis grass trees. These trees grow at an extremely slow rate. The annual vertical growth rate is reputed to rarely be greater than 2cm. Some of the plants along the walk were over 2m tall with flower spikes reaching well over 3m tall. These grass trees are very expensive to buy in nurseries as they are listed as vulnerable plants and as such it is illegal to take them from the wild. Although they are listed as vulnerable you wouldn't know it from the huge number on show along the Two Bays track. I was pleasantly surprised as I never expected that there would be so many densely packed into this area. They were growing so densely that on certain sections of the track they were hedged to as their foliage was blocking the path.

The walk itself

In retrospect my biggest mistake was not bringing any band aids with me. For the first 19km I was fine but the last 7km wasn't so comfortable as a couple of blisters had formed on my feet. I'm not the fittest person on earth but I wouldn't describe myself as unfit either so If you think of yourself in the same way the walk should be within your capabilities. The walk took me 7 hours to complete and apart from my aching feet I felt fine. If you want to attempt this walk yourself maybe try some smaller walks to begin with if you are unsure, take plenty of water and check the bushfire rating if it is summer.

Below are a series of pictures I took along the way of some indigenous plants and other niceties.

This is the view from the Arthurs Seat section of the walk overlooking Dromana. This section was quite steep but after the the walk was fairly flat and mostly downhill.

Messmate trees form the canopy for large parts of the track near Arthurs Seat.

The first indigenous plant I found was this Goodenia ovata common name hop goodenia

This plant is called Dipodium roseum (common name pink hyacinth orchid). It was easy to spot as its bright pink flowers stood out amongst all the green of the bushland.

These next 2 photographs turned out great. They are flowers of the coastal banskia tree Banksia integrifolia.

The spent flowerheads of the coastal banksia.

The plant below is definately not indigenous. It is called boneseed and is a noxious weed. Signage in this area said the weed was such a problem that they have start trialing biological controls to try and eradicate it.

Not all the track is in the bushland. This vineyard is typical of many in the area which is known for producing superb white wine.

This next group of pictures shows Xanthorrheoa australis plants along the section the track south of gardens road.

The track is clearly marked with the fairy wren logo and direction arrows.

Speaking of fairy wrens I managed to snap this one. There are lots of them in the area.

This photo was taken deep in the Greens Bush section of the walk. In 1975 the state government purchased 500 hectares of bushland from the Greens family with the view of protecting it from development or farming. The Greens Bush section is the most untouched section of the walk. Lots of grass trees were growing here and you are surrounded by only the sights and sounds of the bush.

Xanthorrhoeas in the Greens Bush section.

After leaving Greens Bush the trees start to be dominated by coastal banksias as shown below.

Below is some sort of Leptospermum (common name tea tree). I had trouble trying to identify the exact species of the tee tree as there are many that look similar but I couldn't find one that looked exactly like the ones I found.

This little plant was everywhere on the section of track close to Cape Schanck. It is called Chenopodium candolleanum (common name seaberry saltbush). Apparently the leaves can be cooked and eaten.

This pristine section of beach is called Bushranger's Bay. It looked to have some small / medium waves and nice clear water. Definitely on my hit list for the next visit.

A tunnel of tea trees along the last 4km of the walk.

The Cape Schanck lighthouse was sight for sore eyes (or more accurately sore feet). If you've made it this far you have completed the whole 26km.

The boardwalk and rocky coastal section at Cape Schanck.

The indigenous plant below is Leucophyta brownii or the cushion bush.

I made it to the ocean. Below is a view from the sand on the beach below the Cape Shanck boardwalk.

The foliage of Disphyma crassifolium or noon flower was found on the banks along the Cape Schank boardwalk area.

Alas this was the only noon flower I found on the plant. If only I had been there a month or so earlier.

Last of all a picture of the Melaleuca sp.