Day 19

Triggerplant. Photo: Andrew Hughes.
Photo: Andrew Hughes

→ Biology

Meet a leech and a triggerplant

As we left the takayna / Tarkine coastline of the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area we had a morning to explore in the buttongrass heathland beside the Nelson Bay River. The first discovery was lying in the tent!

At first it looked like a piece of mud but when it was flicked out of the tent floor it came to life. It had no legs and a fine pattern of stripes along its slender and segmented body. It moved by stretching out and planting a sucker (or do you call it a foot?) and then bringing it’s other end up. It could also wave in the air as if looking for something but it had no eyes. It was a leech and it had filled itself up on blood from one of us. There was no risk of further sucking so we had a closer look. You can find out good extra information from the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife fact sheet.

The plant that really caught our eye was the pink flowering triggerplant. There were several of these soft leafed beauties near to the tents. They throw us a flowering stem 20–30cm above the ground. The really cool about them is the way they are adapted to spread pollen by unsuspecting insects. When the pollinating insect comes onto the flower it ‘triggers’ a column that hides below the flower to swing around and plop the pollen on the back of the insect. What an ingenious adaptation! Why do you think the insects land on the flower in the first place?

Watch the video on Vimeo or YouTube to see how it went. Or see our progress on our Google Map.