Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Molonglo High Plains - tree identification guide

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:

Old timers see the seeds drop, watch them germinate and climb into the sky.  They know the names - white sallee, black sallee. ribbon gum, yellow box - without having to think.  They know what works well as fence posts, what burns well in winter and what can be used in building frames.

The rest of us need another way of working out what is what.  Because I am preparing to do a remnant vegetation survey - and need a couple of new stirring spoons - I need to get my eye back in.

A couple of years ago I put together this chart to help me work out species when collecting seeds and doing surveys in the mountains.  Eucalypts can be tricky.  An old timer explained it to me this way once - "They like growing together and they get mixed up.  Because they drink the same and get bit the same, they start to look the same".

There used to be other tall trees here.  The Ash now holds bridges and lines old homes in Queanbeyan and a hundred other towns.  High in the mountains, in places where the foresters could not go with bullocks and drays, they are still there - waiting to be re-found.  Deep in the inaccessible forest is another - the Snake Tree - but the old timers keep that secret safe.

Some smooth Bark on trunk
Many Buds, typically >7
E pauciflora (Snow gum, White sallee), parallel veins, smooth white bark: prefers dry sites, well drained gulleys and ridges.

E stellulata (Black sallee), parallel veins, olive green bark: prefers wet areas and tolerates extreme frosts.
E mannifera (Brittle gum), branching veins: prefers acid skeletal soils and most well drained soils
3-7 buds (Box)
E melliodora (Yellow box), narrow leaf, yellow bark, frost sensitive in early years
E polyanthemos (Red box), round blue/grey leaf
3 buds (Tall single truck)
E dalrympleana (Mountain gum), glossy green leaf, high country
E rubida (Candlebark gum), grey/greenleaf, base looks like has axe marks at base, drier areas
E viminalis (Ribbon gum),  ribbony bark, moist area

Rough Bark all over
Many Buds, typically >7
E dives  (Broad leaf Peppermint), broad long leaf, rough/peeling bark
E radiata (narrow leaf peppermint), small long leaf, crumbly bark
3-7 buds (Box)
E melliodora (Yellow box), narrow leaf, yellow bark, frost sensitive in early years
E polyanthemos (Red box), round blue/grey leaf
7 buds
E bridgesiana (Apple box), long leaf, grey/white scaly/flakey  bark
feather-like foliage all over
A decurrens, vivid green, B yellow flower - Sept

A dealbata (Silver Wattle), silver foliage, B yellow flowers Aug-Sept: frost hardy- most aspects
A mearnsii, dull green, cream yellow flowers Nov-Dec
leaves above 2 meters
A implexa (Hickory), dull green to 15m, pale yellow flower late summer
A melanoxylon (Blackwood), dense dark green, pale yellow Sept-Oct: frost hardy but prone to borer attack

Peter Quinton


A rubida (Red-leaf wattle), stems reddish, B yellow flower Sept-Oct: gows fast, tolerates all but wet sites

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