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Einadia hastata

A good bush regenerator will pull out less than 50% of native plant species in their first year. This was unfortunately true and how I learnt about Einadia hastata (commonly known as Berry Saltbush). Due to this species growth form and habit, this species can look out of place in native sandstone communities and can look ‘weedy’. Reasons I draw your attention to this species is the fact it provides a range of uses and can reconnect your garden back to nature.

Species Description

Einadia hastata is a low evergreen shrubby perennial plant which is found in heavy soils widespread across New South Wales (as well as Qld and VIC) in coastal, tableland and inland environments.

Eastwood

Image labelled for reuse on Google Images. Author by Peter Woodard

Uses of Einadia hastata

As suggested by its common name, Einadia hastata leaves are quite salty. Leaves are edible after boiling to remove it’s excess salt. Small quantities are nice in garden salads and stir-fry’s. It’s small red fruits are also edible but tend to have a bitter taste. But most of all this species encourages Chequered Blue (Theclinesthes serpentatus) butterflies into your garden. In the butterflies larval stage, this plant provides an essential source of food and you will start to see them forage in your garden on the ground layer.

I hope to provide more plant species on My Nature Diaries which can be used to entice more butterfly species into your garden.

For more information see:

Einadia hastata (CHENOPODIACEAE) Berry Saltbush by © Save Our Waterways Now

The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by Michael Braby.

 

 

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Living with a Menagerie

I am such a lucky person to have been brought up living alongside a creek and bushland. As a result, over the years I have seen many different species of wildlife. So I have come up with a list of all wildlife I’ve had in my backyard. My mum calls it our menagerie.

MAMMALS

Grey-headed Flying Fox

Long-nosed Bandicoot

Brush-tail Possum

Ring-tail Possum

Common Brown Microbat

Platypus

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BIRDS

Kookaburra

Cockatoo

Dollar Bird

Channel-billed Cuckoo

Satin Bower Bird

Whiptail Bird

Bell Miner

Pacific Buzzard

Pelican

Australasian Darter

Cat Bird

Figbird

Koel

Sacred Kingfisher

Azua Kingfisher

Pied Cormerant

Pacific Black Duck

Tiel

Australian Wood Duck

White Headed Egret

Giant White Egret

Eastern Rosella

Crimson Rosela

Rainbow Lorkieet

Brush Turkey

Magpie

Willy Wag Tail

Butcher Bird

Nosiy Miner

Australian Raven

IMG_20190208_074534_869

REPTILES

Eastern Water Dragon

Eastern Water Skink

Laced Monitor

Diamond Python

Green Tree Snake

Bleating Tree Frog

Common Eastern Toadlet

IMG_20190208_074534_866

Spotted Sun Orchid

Thelymira ixioides, commonly named Spotted Sun Orchid, is a beautiful mauve/purple orchid which you may see growing in Spring and Summer. Derivation of its name, Thelymitra…From Greek thelys, meaning female and mitra, a headdress, referring to the appearance of the plumed column (the fused stamens, styles and stigma), and ixioides…similar to the genus Ixia.

20190215_231850

Photo By Lisa Jones

This species is widespread inhabiting temperate heaths and wet sclerophyll forests along the coast. This is a protected species under the Department of Environment and Hertiage NSW belonging to the Orchidaceae family.

The Spotted Sun Orchid is a small perennial herbstanding up to 60 cm tall. Like most orchids, this species dies back to an underground tuber after flowering season. To see record locations recorded for this species, see Atlas of Living Australia on: https://bie.ala.org.au/species/NZOR-4-39554 . If your unsure if you have found the spotted sun orchid, we recommend using app PlantSnap which is now identifying native plants of Australia.

For further reading about this species, we recommend the following websites:

Australians Native Plant Society (Australia) http://anpsa.org.au/t-ixi.html

 

 

Stop Eating the Wrong Berries!!

As a bush regenerator, I can’t help but observe the behaviour of native birds. Because of my work, I am able to visit different sites which contain different species of plants and birds. Until recently, I witnessed a horrific sight. Too many native birds eating the wrong berries!! Within one week I saw both a Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) eating ripe berries off Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) and a Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) eating the fruits of Small-leaf privet (Ligustrum sinense). It’s disgusting! What was more worse was seeing them drop excrement’s across the site. This frustration has now lead me to research and understand ‘Complex Bird-Weed Relationships’.

birdsNweeds
Images labelled for reuse on Google Images. Authors by: Harald Hubich 2005 and Aviceda 2005.

There is a unique, cooperative relationship between various plants and birds. Some species of plants fully rely on birds for their seed dispersal and succession for future germination. In fact, many weed species depend on birds. This includes as mentioned above Blackberry Nightshade and Privet, as well as Ochna, Asparagus fern and various others.

Birds have a much higher metabolic rate and a much higher/constant body temperature (~42°C) than that of humans (~37°C). Therefore, for birds to maintain a constant body temperature they must forage and eat regularly in order for their metabolism to regulate their body temperature (as well as insulation from feathers). That makes them the prefect vector for scattering seeds. Just a little ‘did you know?’, birds have been recorded investing  between 32–50% of their time on eating over a course of a day. Humans on average will spend ~10% of their time eating. This means that birds are foraging and feeding up to 12 hours a day!

We will look into the complex bird-weed relationship between Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) and Camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora).

birdsNweeds2

Images labelled for reuse on Google Images. Authors by: Peter Woodard 2010 and Myk Dowling 2006.

Camphor laurel is a tall (up to 20 m) evergreen tree with a large, spreading canopy. It is a long-lived tree and has been recorded living older than 500 years (evident in China). Its’ fruits attract many animals including bats, birds, rodents and possums. What is so terrible about this particular tree in Australia is the fact it produces a large amount of seeds which have an in-built seed dormancy allowing it to wait for the right germination conditions (usually in the wet season). Mature camphor laurels have been recorded producing over 110,000 seeds per plant per year. That is an astonishing amount in comparison to our native tree species. Other negatives from Camphor laurel succession include is highly competitive nature towards other trees for space of occupation and nutrients, its ability to form monocultures and associations with other weeds, cause destabilisation of streambanks and steep slopes, and the fact it can be poisonous to some of our native fauna.

Now the Pied Currawong, it is notoriously known for their wide-ranging diet and contributing to the spread of many weed species. Pied Currawongs broad diet include insects, fruit and even vertebrates. Having a broad diet is a favourable adaption allowing the animal many options. When one resource is low, they can survive off their other preferred diets. For example, Pied Currawongs are known to eat more vertebrate prey during the spring breeding seasons (particularly ducklings and other fledging’s). During autumn and winter when vertebrate prey are not as abundant, Pied Currawongs will then transfer to berries and insects. This is coincidental as Camphor laurel fruits are widely abundant in autumn and winter.

Now that forms a question of who relies upon who? Will Camphor laurel continue to thrive without Pied Currawongs, or vice versa? Needless to say, through time, complex bird-weed relationships have formed. To better manage weeds of interest, we must first understand all complex built relationships among other fauna and flora.

 

Sources:

Birds in Backyards 2017, Weeds. Available online at: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/Weeds [Accessed 23 August 2017].

Birds in Backyards 2017, Birds Behaving Badly – Pied Currawong. Available online at: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/Birds-Behaving-Badly-Pied-Currawong [Accessed 01 September 2017].

Gosper C, R.,  2017, “Consequences of weed invasion and control on plant-bird interactions a”. Available online at: http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/371/ [Accessed 23 August 2017].

NSW WeedWise 2017, Camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora). Available online at: http://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/28  [Accessed 23 August 2017].

The Conversation 2017, Stop the miners: you can help Australia’s birds by planting native gardens, Author: Kathryn Lambert. Available online at: http://theconversation.com/stop-the-miners-you-can-help-australias-birds-by-planting-native-gardens-49998  [Accessed 23 August 2017].

The Conversation 2017, Hold the spray: some garden weeds are helping native wildlife, Author: Kathryn Lambert. Available online at: https://theconversation.com/hold-the-spray-some-garden-weeds-are-helping-native-wildlife-47848  [Accessed 23 August 2017].

Why Eucalypts, Why!

“Is that Eucalyptus tereticornis?” – Me

“It’s hard to tell, they can hybridise” – Said by someone more experienced.

Just as I was getting used to the idea of identifying Eucalypt species by their shape of gumnut (fruit) and bark type, thrown into the barrel now is the fact that they can hybridise!!!

So how is it possible for Eucalypt species to hybridise? It is said for two species to hybridise, there first needs to be genetic compatibility. In technical terms this means both species must have the same numbers of chromosomes (genetic material). Additional factors that come into play is if the two separate species have similar (synchronous) flowering times and pollen vectors. Separate species that hybrid where one flowers outside the flowering times of the other is only created through human manipulation.

So what species in NSW hybridise?

After some research from various sources online, just some of the many hybrids that occur in NSW include Eucalyptus apiculata (E. burgessiana × E. stricta), Eucalyptus saligna × botryoides, and Eucalyptus patentinervis (E. robusta × E. tereticornis). There may also be hybridisations that have not been fully recorded, including Stringybark species.

Can you tell if a tree is a hybridised species?

This is a tricky question to answer. In most cases hybrids will confuse the person trying to ID them as they might appear intermediate in some features such as bark type or crown colour between the two parent species (EUCLID 2017), show features of both parents (e.g. E. botryoides and E. saligna situated in NSW, DEE 2017), show features of only one parent species (e.g. E. annuliformis endemic to Western Australia, EUCLID 2017) or not show any characteristic features of either parent species (e.g. E. drummondii native to southwest Western Australia, EUCLID 2017).

Let’s use this exercise to compare parent species and their characteristic feature to three well documented hybrid Eucalypt species.

Eucalyptus apiculata

E. apiculata is described as both rare and localised between Linden and Berrima of NSW typically found in mallee (multi-trunk) shrublands on sandy soils on ridge tops or escarpment landscapes (PlantNET). E. apiculata (leaves up to 0.7 cm wide) has linear leaves which can be distinguished from E. stricta (~ 1.6 cm wide) which has narrow-lanceolate leaves and also distinguished from E. burgessiana (leaves up to 2.5 cm wide) which has lanceolate leaves.

Comparing the fruits of parent species shows that E. apiculata resembles both  E. burgessiana and  E. stricta. E. stricta has globose, ovoid or urceolate shaped fruits (7-10 mm in diameter) while E. burgessiana has globose or urceolate shaped fruits (8-12 mm diam.). EUCLID (2017) describes E. apiculata fruits as pedicellate, cup-shaped, urceolate shaped fruits (6-10 mm diam.).

For further in depth comparsion, we recommend reading EUCLID webpage on Ecualyptus apiculata which can be found at: https://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/Euclid/sample/html/APICUL.htm

E. a
Image by Warren Sheather, from APS – Armidale website.
 

Eucalyptus saligna × botryoides

E. saligna × botryoides, commonly known as Wollongong Woollybutt or Southern Blue Gum, is found on the south coast of NSW in the Illawara region, south of Sydney. This species is known to resemble its parent species, E. saligna based on physical attributes such as appearance and type of bark. For example E. saligna is known to be a part bark species of Eucalypt with a short fibrous stocking at the base versus E. botryoides known as a full bark species of Eucalypt with rough, red stained bark extending to all limbs of its branches. E. saligna × botryoides is also a part bark species of Eucalypt with grey smooth bark above its stocking, “sock” like E. saligna. Attributes that resemble E. botryoides includes shape of leaf, buds and fruits. More in-depth comparison can be seen in the positioning of stomata on the leaves.

For more information on  E. saligna × botryoides, see Wollongong’s Native Trees at: http://www.nationalregisterofbigtrees.com.au/listing/770.pdf

 

Eucalyptus patentinervis

E. patentinervis, commonly known as Bastard Mahogany is known to occur where stands of both parent species are within close proximity to each other, particular transition zones. This union is particularly strange when E. tereticornis is known to occur in Cumberland Plain areas in grassy wooded alluvial flats where E. robusta tend to occur in Sandstone areas in floodplain forests. Comparison of bark types is also interesting to note. E. tereticornis has a smooth bark and E. robusta is a full bark species of Eucalypt. E. patentinervis is highly variable and has different attributes depending on location, geology and climate. Some stands of E. patentinervis are fully rough barked, while other have been recorded containing part bark with smooth branches. Consistency seems to be present in the shape of its fruits, leaves and colour of flowers.

Other descriptions of this species include white to pink flowers, flattened flower stems and venation of the leaves more closely resemble E. tereticornis. For images of E. patentinervis, see Northern Beaches Herbarium Gallery at:

http://northernbeachesherbarium.com.au/gallery3/index.php/Trees/Eucalypts-bark-rough/Eucalyptus-robusta-x-tereticornis?page=2

Other species that E. robusta has been recorded hybridising with other species of Eucalypt include bangalay (E. botryoides), flooded gum (E. grandis), Tasmanian blue gum (E. globulus), woollybutt (E. longifolia) and Bancroft’s red gum (E. bancroftii).

Conclusion

All in all hybrids are quite unquie specimens and have unique origins to where, when and how they came into existence. Eucalypt hybrids continue to studied for progeny tests confirming their origin. Today hybrids are a debateable topic to whether they should be classed as a subspecies, a variety of a species, or its own independent species.

To see a full classification of the Eucalypts species (including Angophoras, Corymbia and Eucalyptus), see Nicolle D (2015) Classification of the Eucalypts (Angophora, Corymbia and Eucalyptus), Version 2, available online at: http://www.dn.com.au/Classification-Of-The-Eucalypts.pdf

 

Sources

Department of Environmental and Energy, 2017. National Vegetation Information System Taxonomic Review: 3.0 Results. Available online at: http://www.environment.gov.au/node/18958 [Accessed 08 August 2017].

EUCLID 2017, Learn about eucalypts, Available online at: https://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/euclid3/euclidsample/html/learn.htm [Accessed 08 August 2017].

EUCLID 2017, Eucalyptus apiculata, Available online at: https://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/Euclid/sample/html/APICUL.htm [Accessed 08 August 2017].

Gallery 2017. Eucalyptus robusta x tereticornis hybrid – Bastard Mahogany or E patentinervis , Northern Beaches Herbarium. Available online at: http://northernbeachesherbarium.com.au/gallery3/index.php/Trees/Eucalypts-bark-rough/Eucalyptus-robusta-x-tereticornis [Accessed 08 August 2017].

Lopez G, A., Potts B, M., and Tilyard P, A., 2000, ‘F1 hybrid inviability in Eucalyptus: the case of E. ovata × E. globulus’, Heredity, vol. 85, pg. 242–250. Available online at: https://www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v85/n3/full/6887390a.html [Accessed 08 August 2017].

National Register of Big Trees, 2017, Eucalyptus saligna × E. botryoides, Wollongong’s Native Trees, Available online at: http://www.nationalregisterofbigtrees.com.au/listing/770.pdf [Accessed 08 August 2017].

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017. Eucalyptus apiculata R.T.Baker & H.G.Sm. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Eucalyptus~apiculata  [Accessed 08 August 2017].

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017. Eucalyptus saligna Sm. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Eucalyptus~saligna  [Accessed 08 August 2017].

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017. Eucalyptus tereticornis Sm. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Eucalyptus~tereticornis  [Accessed 08 August 2017].

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017. Eucalyptus robusta Sm. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Eucalyptus~robusta [Accessed 08 August 2017].

Australia’s Natural Stingose

As a bush regenerator, ant bites are sadly unavoidable. But nature has provided us the essentials for coping with these incidents. Aboriginal cultural knowledge and education from my peers have taught me the natural stingose – Bracken fern (Pteridium esculentum).

Interestingly, both the stalks and juvenile growths can be used to relieve pain. By chewing on the stalk (not eating the entire stalk of course!!) you will feel the immediate relief of its healing properties. If you are not comfortable with this approach, you can apply fresh new frond growths from P. esculentum to the swollen area for similar results.

BUT BE WARNED. There are two species of fern that look very similar if not properly identified. Bracken fern (P. esculentum) can be commonly mistaken for False Bracken fern (Calochlaena dubia, also known as Soft Bracken fern).

Let’s use this exercise to compare Bracken vs. False Bracken.

Bracken fern (Pteridium esculentum)

P. esculentum can be distinguished with its dark green, rough/stiff fronds versus C. dubia light green soft fronds. Another key feature between the species is that P. esculentum has opposite frond branch arrangement and that P. esculentum is typically found with a single stem (not aggregated together in clumps commonly seen in C. dubia at the base).

 Bracken FERN

Pteridium esculentum. Author by Lisa Jones.

 

False Bracken fern (Calochlaena dubia)

C. dubia can be distinguished by its soft, light green, alternating frond branch arrangement. This species is confined to sandstone communities while P. esculentum has been recorded on both shale derived geologies and sandstone communities. Another key distinguishable feature of C. dubia is that all segments are repeated until the apex (tip) of the frond end while P. esculentum has a long lobbed ‘finger’ at the apex of the end of every frond. Compare images above and below.

 soft-bracken.jpg

Calochlaena dubia. Author by Lisa Jones.

 

Resources

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017. Pteridium esculentum (G.Forst.) Cockayne. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Pteridium~esculentum [Accessed 4 August 2017].

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017. Calochlaena dubia (R.Br.) M.D.Turner & R.A.White in R.A.White & M.D.Turner. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Calochlaena~dubia [Accessed 4 August 2017].

Acacia decurrens vs. Acacia parramattensis

“Is that Acacia decurrens?” – Me

“No that’s Acacia parramattensis” – Said by someone more experienced.

Acacia’s at first can be quite tricky to identify without first having some background knowledge on key features of particular species you’re trying to key out. Of course, you’re not going to confuse A. decurrens with A. longifolia because A. decurrens has bipinnate phyllodes  while A. longifolia has simple straight phyllodes. But when two species has the same leaflet structure and occur on the same geology, it can be difficult from a first glance.

Let’s use this exercise to compare Acacia decurrens and Acacia parramattensis.

Acacia decurrens

A. decurrens flowers between July – September (predominantly in winter) versus A. parramattensis which flowers in Summer. Robinson (1991) states that A. decurrens is commonly seen in forests on Cumberland Plain, and rarely on sandstone geology. This species if confused with Aparramattensis can be distinguished by its long linear pinnules (5-15mm), well spaced leaflets and bright yellow flowers.

A decurrens

Acacia decurrens. Imaged labelled for reuse on Google Images. Author by John Tann, Flickr.

 

Acacia parramattensis

A. parramattensis flowers between November – February (predominantly in summer) versus A. decurrens in winter. Robinson (1991) states that Aparramattensis can be found in woodlands on dry shallow sandy or clay soils. This species if confused with A. decurrens can be distinguished by its fine blunt narrowly oblong pinnules (4-9mm), tightly-spaced leaflets and pale yellow flowers.

A parramatensis

Acacia parramattensis. Imaged labelled for reuse on Google Images. Author by John Tann, Flickr.

 

References

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017. Acacia parramattensis Tindale. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Acacia~parramattensis [Accessed 4 August 2017].

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017. Acacia decurrens Willd. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Acacia~decurrens [Accessed 4 August 2017].

Robinson, L. 1991, Field guide to the native plants of Sydney, Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, NSW.

Allocasuarina littoralis vs. Casuarina glauca

“Is that a Casuarina?” – Me

“No that’s an Allocasuarina” – Said by someone more experienced.

So my question was, what is the difference between Casuarina and Allocasuarina? After a long discussion with my site supervisor and myself, we came down to the conclusion that it was based off differences in their growth and morphological traits (as well as their genetic pool if you get down into the nitty gritty). As a bush regenerator, what you see is what you get. We can only distinguish them by what we can see in the field.

Steane et al. (2003) describes different types of morphological traits in the Casuarinaceae family from drooping equisetoid twigs, reduced scale-like leaves, inflorescences with alternating whorls to reduced flowers and winged samaras as fruits.

A report by George (1989) summarises why both genera were separated based on their growth and morphological traits, such as mature samara colour, thickness of cone bracteoles and teeth per whorl. Later reports use DNA sequencing to confirm distinctiveness of the two genera.

After all of that, it can still be quite difficult for people to distinguish the two genera. That is why I have chosen to compare Allocasuarina littoralis to Casuarina glauca.

 

Allocasuarina littoralis

The fruit of Allocasuarina littoralis is similar to Casuarina glauca in shape (cylindrical). However, the apex (tip) of the ‘cone’ is typically convex (means curving out or extending outward) but sometimes flattened. This characteristic is also evident in Allocasuarina distyla. Its seeds (samaras) are small, shiny and dark in colour.

allocasurina
Allocasuarina littoralis fruit  and seeds. Image labelled for reuse on Google images. Author: John Tann, Flickr.

 

Casuarina glauca

The fruit of Casuarina glauca is similar to Allocasuarina littoralis in shape (cylindrical). However, the apex (tip) of the ‘cone’ is typically concave and sunken (means curving in or hollowed inward). Its seeds (samaras) are small, pale and dull in colour. Dull coloured seeds are characteristic of Casuarina species.

casurina

Casuarina glauca fruit  and seeds. Image labelled for reuse on Google images. Author: John Tann, Flickr.

 

I would like you to now come up with your own observational differences between the two species and two genera. This exercise will improve your plant identifying skills and enhance your appreciation for native flora.

References

Catan J,M. and Hardwick R, J., 2016, Field Guide to Useful Native Plants From Temperate Australia, Harbour Publishing House.

George, A.S., 1989. Flora of Australia: Hamamelidales to Casuarinales. Vol. 3, CSIRO Publishing, Oecologia, pp: 106.

Kamalakannan, R., Barthwal, S., Chezhian, P., Balasaravanan, T., Yasodha, R., Gurumurthi, K. and Ghosh, M., 2006. Morphological and Molecular Diversity among Casuarina and Allocasuarina Species. Biotechnology, 5: 301-307. Available online at: http://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=biotech.2006.301.307&org=11 [Accessed 31 July 2017].

PlantNET – FloraOnline. 2017. Allocasuarina littoralis (Salisb.) L.A.S.Johnson. [ONLINE] Available at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Allocasuarina~littoralis [Accessed 31 July 2017].

PlantNET – FloraOnline. 2017. Casuarina glauca Sieber ex Spreng. [ONLINE] Available at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Casuarina~glauca [Accessed 31 July 2017].

Steane, D.A., K.I. Wilson and R.S. Hill, 2003. Using matK sequence data to unravel the phylogeny of Casuarinaceae. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 28: 47-59.

Exercise 1: Forest Bathing

Hello and welcome to the first educational exercise presented by MY NATURE DIARIES. This exercise requires you to visit a natural landscape as often as possible.

This weekend I visited Kincumba Mountain Reserve on the Central Coast part of Awaba and Darkinjung country. Kincumber Mountain Reserve sits between the suburbs of Kincumber and Erina, just south of Gosford. It was here that I practiced ‘Forest Bathing’.

Okay, ready for Exercise 1?

I would like you to close your eyes for this exercise and think of a place that is peaceful and has a quiet setting.

Q. What was the first place you thought of?

Q. Was this place within a natural landscape?

A natural landscape could be a forest in a National Park, sand dunes at the beach, running water by stream or waterfall, and others.

I recommend all to visit a natural landscape as often as possible and reconnect our minds and bodies to hopefully retune us back to nature. This can be done by forest therapy walks. I know this may sound strange but the benefits of doing this is endless, such as boosting our immune system, reducing blood pressure, reducing levels of stress and much, much more. The environment is a good place to clear your mind as you breath in it’s fresh air, release any built up tension and move forward with a positive light on your shoulders.

The Japanese culture call this practice ‘Shinrin-yoku’ which means ‘Forest Bathing’ which was developed in the 1980s. The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there become calm, rejuvenated and restorative benefits will be achieved.

A better understanding and respect for cultures built from the foundations of nature will create an enriched appreciation of our natural landscapes and can lead to reconciliation.

I hope you enjoyed MY NATURE DIARIES first educational exercise.

 

Source:

Shinrin-yoku: the Medicine of Being in the Forest 2017, Shinrin-Yoku Forest Medicine: the Medicine of Being in the Forest. Available online at: http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html [Accessed 29 July 2017].

Brachychiton populneus

Someone once pointed out to me Brachychiton populneus whilst in Nattai National Park, past Picton NSW. My first reaction was, YUCK! “Can’t believe Camphor Laurel [scientific name: Cinnamomum camphora] is found all the way out here”. Then they said, go have a closer look. Then I realised that I was not looking at what I first suspected it to be. The bark had a different texture and the leaf margin was entire and ovate with long narrow tapering tip at the leaf’s apex (tip of the leaf). He said, “This is the Kurrajong tree, scientific name Brachychiton populneus”.

KurrajongKurrajong tree. Image labelled for reuse on Google images. Author: John Tann, Flickr.

Species Description

Brachychiton populneus is a tree which can grow up to 20 metres high. Distinguishing features of this plant include its firm, granular and grey-brown coloured bark, its fruits and flowers. It produces a bat-shaped seedpod which turn black-brown when ripe. Its flowers are distinguished by its creamy yellow tubular, bell shape flowers. To see this species in flower you need to go to habitats it grows in during spring to early summer. Habitat types it prefers include forests and woodlands in both semi-humid and semi-arid conditions on western facing slopes.

Uses of Brachychiton populneus

Seeds from its seedpod are edible, BUT caution to anyone who does not know how to carefully prepare the fruit for consumption. Other parts of the plant that can be used include the gum from the tree and taproots of young saplings which is edible, and inner bark for making ropes, nets etc.

For more information, I recommend reading from the following resources:

Catan J,M. and Hardwick R, J., 2016, Field Guide to Useful Native Plants From Temperate Australia, Harbour Publishing House.

National Arboretum Canberra Foundation Ltd 2017, Forest 79 – Kurrajong and Bottle Tree (Australian natives), Brachychiton populneus (Kurrajong), Available online at: http://www.nationalarboretum.act.gov.au/living-collection/trees/tree-descriptions/forests-and-trees/forest-79

PlantNET – FloraOnline 2017.  Brachychiton populneus (Schott & Endl.) R.Br. Available online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Brachychiton~populneus. [Accessed 24 July 2017].

 

Hazard Reduction Burns and BR’s

Usually local Councils will have a ‘Hazard Reduction Strategy’ in place to ensure that they reduce the number of unplanned fires, reduce fuel loads and minimise the potential for the spread of bushfires spreading into reserves and threatening residential properties.

As a Bush Regenerator (BR) I have experienced working in Post Hazard Reduction zones and have had to in the past manage sites which had poor pre-controlled fire management strategies. In some cases, operations did not take into consideration species of weeds present on site and their behaviour to fire.

A main weed to watch for is Ochna serrulata (commonly known as Ochna or Mickey Mouse Plant). Ochna is not fire resistant but has a long taproot which is buried underground and is usually not affected by surface fires often produced from a flame thrower during hazard reduction burns. After a burn, Ochna will most definitely re-sprout and form coppice shoots making it more difficult to treat then if treated in its previous state (pre-fire).

Ochna

Image: Ochna, by Lisa Jones.

A few other exotic weeds to watch out for in South East Australia that are fire retardant or germinate after fire events include Senna (Senna pendula var. glabrata), Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) and Blue Lily (Agapanthus orientalis).

All in all it is important to identify fire retardant species and those stimulated by fire and to threat them first accordingly before hazard reduction burns commence. Otherwise the job to manage the site will become much harder and more costly.