Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Molonglo High Plains - Plants

Molonglo High Plains

This is one of a series of posts dealing with the Molonglo High Plains (Hoskinstown, Rossi, Forbes Creek and other areas to the west of the old volcano Palerang).  The entire series is at:


This leaflet sets out some of the local species (particularly those more successful species grown through Landcare demonstration plantings or identified through remnant vegetation surveys).  Highly recommended trees are marked with a star *.


Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle) *
This local tree (8-30m) prefers moist, but not wet, soils (but is widespread from dry forests to snow gum forests) and is frost hardy to -7C growing in most soils and aspects (particularly disturbed areas beside roadworks). It is useful for windbreak and erosion control purposes. 

A. dealbata has silver-grey to dull grey-green compound leaves, bright yellow ball-shaped flowers from August to September with long seed pod.  It may be propagated from scarified seed or boiling water treatment.

It exudes gum, usually at the site of injuries, which hardens as it dries. An important food for aboriginals, A. dealbata is the only wattle to produce a gum to rival gum Arabic.

Acacia boormanii  (Snowy River Wattle) *
This shrub grows along riverbanks and in other warm locations.  It is useful for windbreak and erosion control purposes. Although not local, we have found it useful for ridges with some soil.  There has been variable performance in heavy frost areas (although it is worth persisting with if given some shelter).

Acacia rubida (Red-leaf wattle) *
Generally a compact shrub which grows in most warm locations. Branches are red and it has  bright yellow ball-shaped flowers from October to November with twisted seed pods.  We found this local species to be an excellent performer at all sites (but it will not tolerate wet conditions).  It is highly recommended as it provides very good early growth providing shelter to slower growing species.

Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood)
This local tree 8-30m may have untapped economic potential (but will need to be planted in a gully for maximum advantage). It has glossy dark green leaves (compound leaves in juvenile and small shrubs), rough bark, small pale yellow ball-shaped flowers in spring with twisted seed pods. A hardy tree (frost hardy to -7 C ) but prone to borer attack.

Blackwood is regarded as one of the best cabinet timbers with an attractive golden brown colour which dresses and polishes well. The local varieties have different qualities to those previously used economically - seeds should be selectively collected.  It may be propagated from scarified seed or boiling water treatment.

The bark and twigs were used in fishing by aboriginals. The plant material was pounded and thrown into the water and the fish retrieved after a wait of half an hour to a couple of days.

Other useful wattles
Try also Acacia decurrens (Green Wattle) * and Acacia mearnsii (Black wattle) *.


Eucalyptus mannifera (Brittle gum) *
A local tree to 25 m. Bark smooth throughout, white, cream, grey, sometimes with patches of red, usually powdery. Adult leaves alternate, blue-green to grey-green. Generally found on low ranges in poorer soils.  A smooth bark and broad blue-grey leaves.

Recommended as growing best on acid skeletal soils but performs well on most well drained soils.  

A sugary manna can be found on injured stems which dries to sweet flakes. Eaten as a sweet by aboriginal and settler children. Used by early settlers as a laxative (taken with tea).

Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow gum/White sallee) *
A common local tree to 20 m.  The tree is distinguished by the smooth white to grey-white bark, often with `scribbles',   the thick glossy leaves with almost parallel veins, and by the thick-rimmed fruits.

The tree prefers dry sites. It  will grow on ridges but thrives in well drained gullies.  It is susceptible to extremes of frosts when establishing.  Useful for windbreak purposes. 

Eucalyptus stellulata (Black sallee) *
A common local tree to 15+ m. The bark is smooth dark grey, grey-black or olive green (the old compact bark persists at the base). It has small, relatively broad,  leaves with three veins almost parallel to the margin, shorter buds and smaller fruits. It prefers wet areas and tolerates extremes of frosts (it is performing well where planted).

Eucalyptus rubida (Candlebark gum)
Local tree to 40 m (survives as a remnant tree on the plains). The  bark is smooth throughout, white or red to red-brown, often with horizontal, dark, insect scars. Adult leaves alternate and are dull green.

E.rubida is recognised by its tall tree habit, smooth white bark often with red to red-brown old patches and horizontal insect scars on the lower trunk, 3-flowered umbels and small buds. Differs from E. dalrympleana (ie. Mountain Gum which is only found in high wet elevations >850M) mainly in bark colour and glaucous juvenile leaves.

The wood is tough but not durable (but is useful for fencing). The trees produce nectar for honey production and is a useful decoy for christmas beetles.  A fire hazard.

Eucalyptus radiata (narrow leaf peppermint gum)
Tree 10-50 m. The bark is fibrous, grey-brown throughout, or with smaller branches becoming smooth.

E.radiata has been used in commercial oil distillation, there being a number of different chemical varieties. One produces oil of excellent medicinal value with a high cineole content while another produces oil used in disinfectants and deodorants.

The wood is useful in general construction.

Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow box)
Tree to 30 m. Bark is fibrous on lower trunk only or up to larger branches, grey, yellow or red-brown, then smooth, white-yellow above.  It has 7 flowered umbels and prominent staminal ring that persists and obscures the fruit.

A greatly favoured tree for honey production. The wood is hard, heavy, strong and extremely durable and has been used for heavy construction, railway sleepers, poles and firewood.

Frost sensitive in early years.

Other Useful Gums
Try also Eucalyptus aggregata (Black Gum) *, Eucalyptus nicholii (Small leafed Peppermint) *, Eucalyptus ovata (Swamp Gum) *, Eucalyptus dives  (Broad leaf Peppermint), and Eucalyptus polyanthemos (Red box).



Grevillea rosemarinfolia (Bathurst Rosemary Grevillea)
A good good understorey shrub  which attracts birds.  It has performed exceptionally well on the plain and is recommended.

Grevillea victoriae (Royal Grevillea)

A good understorey shrub which attracts birds.  It shows variable performance, preferring deep ripped areas (1.2 m) with deep soils and moisture.

(In different forms, this document was prepared based on local knowledge - particularly those who trialed native replantings) and published in the 1990s.  Information was drawn from many local people.)

Peter Quinton

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