Crimson Spikes Across A Wide, Brown Land
Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
Here is one of the quintessential Australian sights - the crimson bottlebrush. You can see why it's called that - because it closely resembles the contraption used to clean bottles of every description. They're in full bloom at the moment and are very popular because they are hardy native plants that thrive in the hot, dry Australian conditions. Yes, believe me, it is hot and dry in Melbourne at the moment, even though summer is still ten days away.
Aparently there are more than 30 varieties of bottlebrush, which belong to the Callistemon genus. I took the first couple of shots on this post to give you an idea of how unusual the spikes are on each bloom. Early on in their life, each spike is tipped with a microscopic white dot that looks like a light-emitting diode, but these get progressively more dull as the blooms age. I shot this sequence in very bright light, so I had to work the angles carefully.
And while I had my head stuck between the branches in my normal get-the-best-shot mode, I noticed this branch (below) with the blood-red bloom just starting to sprout from the little green pods. After the flowers have withered, the empty pods turn into woody circles that look like miniature suckers on an octopus tentacle.