Over the garden fence

The plants that got away

Bronwen Scott

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White-headed Pigeon (Columba leucomela) on Duranta, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland. © Bronwen Scott.

Sometimes I startle the White-headed Pigeons while they are feeding in the neighbours’ garden and they fly off with a clatter of wings. I apologise for disturbing them. It’s a reflex; they might be birds but that’s no reason to forget my manners.

The pigeons are picking berries from the Duranta in my neighbour’s garden. Duranta, also known as Golden Dewdrop, is an ornamental plant from Central and South America. It grows well in warmer climates. All year round, it produces white-hemmed purple flowers followed by necklaces of orange fruit so heavy they bend the branches towards the ground.

When the sun comes out, the Duranta shimmers like a mirage and sings in the key of bees’ wings. Butterflies swarm to it. Today, I saw Yellow Albatross, Lemon Migrant, Eggfly, Common Crow, Rustic, Lurcher, and three swallowtails — Blue Triangle, the iridescent Ulysses and the sparrow-sized Cairns Birdwing.

Ulysses Butterfly (Papilio ulysses) feeding on Duranta, Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott

White-headed Pigeons come for the berries. And there the problem begins. Duranta is an invasive species and the birds distribute it beyond the garden fence.

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Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: bronwenscott.com