by Donnie Hayden
© 2014, all rights reserved
I could have just as easily called this post, On: Gum Trees because, it is. And a Gum Tree is certainly easier to say than perhaps, an Eucalyptus Tree and I suppose it is, even though gum trees and eucalyptus trees are related and not to mention our cousin myrtle.
Let me see if I have this straight. Not every gum tree is an eucalyptus tree, but every eucalyptus tree is a gum tree? Huh? What? These trees are called gum trees and are classified as trees and shrubs which have smooth bark which exudes a lot of sap from any break in the bark. Hence, sap, sappy, gummy or gum.
As a Koala Bear, surely you would think that I am quite particularly partial to eucalyptus trees and especially since I dine on their delicious leaves! 🙂 But I am not the only one in Australia that loves the “eucalypts” (as they are often called here down under) and not everyone loves them like I do!
The kookaburra sometimes sings from a Coolabah (a type of eucalypt), waltzing Maltilda often rests against one as does her swagman, just to mention a few. For more information about these names, terms and characters on this blog, see Waltzing Maltida, Damper and the Kookaburra song from Music Down Under.
By the way, the Coolabah is also the name of a certain style of a special Australian hat made by Akubra. I am hoping and waiting for a email that my size and color has bee found. I am anticipating a simple reference that reads: Found Hat – Bring Head! 🙂 If you are an Aussie reading this and you can help me locate one in black size 57 I will love you forever! 🙂
With the eucalyptus/gum/coolabah species of trees having so many varieties, it’s obvious that there are many of them in the country of Australia. Many of them grow really tall and grow mostly straight. They are excellent for timber and for telephone/utility poles. I have seen several in our neighborhood where one seems to be its natural color, another tinted green as a preservative I assume and another with saw cut beveled edges. Perhaps the differences may be understood by the dates when they were installed and methods that have evolved through the years
These are remarkable trees with little that bother them, but there are a few exceptions. There is one insect, Psyllids that leave behind sugary secretions on the underside of the leaves they ingest. These sugary secretions are called Bell Lerps and attract some ants and the beautiful sounding birds called the, Bell Birds. Yes, this is exactly what they sound like! For more information see on this blog: Bell Birds
There is a very rare type of eucalyptus known as the White Gum which is nearly extinct, but it is seen in and around Camden, New South Wales, Australia.
Many of these eucalyptus trees shed their bark annually. And here in Australia, the bark is just simply called, ‘fuel.’ The trees might look like they’re naked, but the bark will grow back.
In addition to the bark falling off in either strips or chucks (depending on the variety) sometimes, entire branches will fall off. The Aussies know this, but for us foreigners that do not, signs are sometimes placed near some of these trees, especially in the Australian summer (December to February) to alert and protect others from unexpected and sudden branches falling. These fallen branches are actually hollowed out from within by termites and yet the tree still survives.
The Aborigines, walking in the forest would tap on the appropriate size of fallen branches they were seeking, to determine the quality of sound it made. Some of these chosen fallen and hollow branches are suitable for the famous didgeridoo instruments, used in Australia. They are carved, and decorated by skilled craftsmen and artisans.
The Didgeridoo is quite possibly the oldest instrument in the world – and still one of the best. Forever associated with Aboriginal Music, the sound of Australia is now available everywhere and growing in popularity.
Modern Music with a Digeridoo, Xavier Rudd – http://www.xavierrudd.com/
It is estimated that there are over 700 varieties of eucalyptus tree with just 15 of these outside of Australia, but of those 15, only nine are not found in Australia. I suppose you could say, we Aussies have cornered the world marketplace on “eucalypts.“
Other uses of these amazing trees are: pulp, paper, charcoal, ornamental uses, as an antiseptic, disinfectants, dyes, insect repellents, mosquito repellents, cough drops, deodorizing, decongestants, toothpaste, sweets and bees from their flowers produce delicious honey.
They are fast growing and some trees, even if cut off from the roots, will grow back. Their roots dig deep into the earth and to some people, this water sucking tree is a good thing, as it helps to reduce the spread of malaria from stagnant pools of water the roots will just suck dry. To others, these sponge-like trees steal the water from everything else that needs it.
Due to the depth its roots reach in the earth, they are often called – prospectors, gold prospectors. Yes, you read that correctly, gold! They will actually transfer some all the way into its leaves. These gold-leaf-nugget-clusters may not be worth collecting, but they can sure tell one that this tree, where the gold may be found in its leaves, could be sitting on a fortune below its roots in a huge vein of gold!!!! 🙂
Some believe these trees are not so great as they are a fire hazard. Much of the time, Australia can be quite arid and dry, even though humidity, for example, just yesterday was at 98%. Bush fires have spread and burned perhaps, 1000’s and 1,000’s of acres. And the eucalyptus does not endear itself to many, when it contributes greatly to these consuming fires, since it sheds its bark and drops branches – adding fuel to the fires. But how quickly whole forests grow back and how fertile the soil, after a fire, is amazing. Despite how anyone may feel about these trees (favorably or unfavorably) they have most likely been here a whole lot longer than people have. And the most amazing thing to me about these trees and the purpose of this post is, their ability to adapt.
To continue life, life most reproduce itself. It is no different for these trees. They grow, flower and are pollinated by bees. They produce fertile seeds and many are as hard as, little green rocks. The trees drop bark which is like surrounding their trunks with kindling to attract fire!
Its bark, sap and leaves are full of volatile chemicals. The Blue Mountains (which we will be visiting this weekend) is so-named because of, a blue-like haze from the tree-leave combustible chemicals in the air. It’s like these trees are waiting for and setting up conditions for a lightening strike to start the fires that will destroy them.
But here is the conclusion of the seemingly purposed set-up of its own destruction and continuation. There are two dominant theories on this. Some believe those hard as rock seeds will not open unless there is a fire. Others believe that they will only open when the soot mixes with water, after a fire Whatever is factually accurate the truth is, these trees continue their species through FIRE and they seem to try and bring the fires!!!!