Sunday, 11 September 2016

Gum Trees



These are fairly typical looking Eucalypts or Gum Trees, photographed in the mountains of New South Wales. There are over 700 species of Eucalyptus, virtually all of them native to Australia, although a number of species are now grown all over the world. I can't remember which particular species these ones are. 

It is mainly the Gum Trees that give the Australian bush its characteristic appearance. Economically they have become important globally. Most of the paper worldwide is made from Eucalyptus pulp, for example. If you've never tried Eucalyptus honey, you've missed out on a treat. Tasmanian Blue Gum Eucalyptus globulus is the most widely available because it grows all over the world, but I like Stringybark, River Red Gum, Ironbark and Yellow Box honeys too -- all Eucalypts.

10 comments:

  1. They fall down if near your house - we had several on our block where we are building that needed to be cleared. One was in my study, the few in the kitchen, family and living rooms.
    However we still have others at a safe distance from the house.

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  2. We have a eucalyptus tree just outside our bedroom here in Tucson. It's messy, but the Cooper's Hawks and Great Horn Owls love to nest in it, so it will stay.

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    1. Be very careful as Gums have a tendency to drop limbs or even just decide to lay down in very high winds. Messy, yes but also dangerous if too close to your home.

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    2. I'm sure certain species are prong to dropping branches (as are other species of tree) but I've never personally observed it. I think it is one of those things that if it happens can be dramatic and potentially dangerous and so people remember it, but is probably relatively rare. I don't recall any limbs falling from the trees in any of our family's gardens, or any of the street trees where I grew up. I think it probably depends a lot on species.

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    3. Thanks for the concern, Leon. We regularly have an arborist thin the branches to keep it from getting one sided or top heavy. We too have heard the stories of falling trees, so want to keep our tree healthy.

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  3. Those soaring white trunks are beautiful. I can smell the eucalyptus. Sadly a whole row of gorgeous peppermint gums were just cut down for a footpath in front of the Pakistan High Commission here in Dhaka. I loved picking up some leaves and sniffing them while I walked our dog. Sadly no longer possible. Thanks for the lovely pic.

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    1. My sister once sent me gum leaves in my birthday card :-)

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  4. When we lived in New Zealand our driveway was lined with ironbarks on either side, huge towering trees and always quite dangerous in high winds and storms, branches would fly off

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    1. Where I grew up Silver-leaved Ironbarks were native. We had lots of them on the farm and they were used to make fence posts. I don't recall falling branches being an issue, although gum trees do have that reputation.

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  5. Leon's comment about dangerous falling branches sent me on a quest to find out why eucalypts have this reputation and whether it is deserved or not. It seems that they developed the reputation very early on (probably no surprise, as in a pioneer country there is a lot of tree felling going on). Mainly it is forestry workers who are killed, and experience does not protect them. The reason being that it is an extremely rare event, so they either make a mistake or move into an area of danger without first assessing the situation. Outside of forestry workers deaths by falling branch nearly always involve people in tents and bad weather. There have been a few instances of people in moving vehicles being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The risk factors seem to be: if the tree is showing signs of dieback (a sign of fungal disease which can cause general weakness); if it has been wet; if it is windy. What is interesting is how prevalent the idea of 'widow makers' is compared to the statistical likelihood of the event occurring. It is clearly an issue that people find horrifying remember very strongly. Some of the fatal incidents over the past decades have not been eucalypts at all. Melaleucas and banksias have also killed people. So, basically, my advice is, don't camp under trees with overhanging branches and don't be outdoors near trees in windy weather. All trees will fail at winds of more than 145 kilometres per hour according to a French study earlier this year (that's the speed at which the trunk will snap in more than half the trees of a forest, so branches will fly off at much lower speeds).

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