Eucalypts – the Phoenix Trees

February 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature | 5 Comments
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DSCF7921

It is wonderful how species adapt to local conditions as they change over time.

Australia, the driest continent, was not always that way. It was once a tropical paradise (with volcanoes and the rest of the earth-building) when it separated from Gondwanaland. Over many millions of years, as the land mass moved to its current position relative to the rest of what had been a super-continent, conditions changed. It had been aeons since there had been the inland sea that the early European explorers expected to see.

Present-day Australia is a mixture of tropical rainforests in the northern coastal regions, temperate rainforests in the eastern and southern regions, dry forests inland, and deserts in the huge Red Centre. The climate is one of extremes. The Australian poet Dorothea McKellar wrote of her love for this land in the poem My Country. In it are these descriptive lines:

… a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains…

When there has been no rain for months, the countryside becomes dry. The greatest fear then is of fire. And when it comes, it is truly ferocious.

Fire Flinders Ranges Feb.2014

Fire Flinders Ranges Feb.2014

Nords Wharf fire

Nords Wharf fire

On Sunday, we drove through part of the large area of bushland that was burnt out only four months ago, during the widespread fire emergency in New South Wales.

We found that many of the trees, mostly eucalypts, that were burned in the fire have sprouted new growth.

New growth sprouts from a badly burned eucalypt.

New growth sprouts from a badly burned eucalypt.

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Even young saplings are recovering, though quite a few succumbed to the intensity of the flames. Soon though, new seedlings will emerge.

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Eucalypts are an integral part of the Australian bush (‘the bush’ covers a multitude of meanings in Australia, but here I am using the meaning ‘forest’), Although the volatile oil in their leaves is very flammable, making the bush subject to frequent fire episodes, most species are able to recover from the effects of fire.

That is because their seeds are protected inside woody nodules, and also because many species are able to regrow from nodules under the bark after all foliage and even much of the bark has been burned off.

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The bush regenerates after the fires.

Eucalypts, each a little miracle – a phoenix growing from the ashes.

 

(c) Linda Visman

 

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5 Comments »

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  1. The new life coming out of that burnt Eucalypt is absolutely wonderful. Beautiful image Linda.

  2. The new growth is so fresh and lush! It’s almost a miracle. 🙂

  3. I remember driving to Maryville some years ago a few months after the fires went through there. The regenerating eucalypts looked surreal and reminded us of scenes in fantasy movies. Incredible to think that nature has the capacity to heal itself … until humanity arrived to find ways to make sure it can’t having introduced toxic elements into the soil.


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