Day 9 … the colours of a true Aussie icon….
I fell in love with these trees when I first came to Australia…. they are magnificent and distinctive. They have wonderful names, like stringybarks, ironbarks, peppermints, boxes, ghost gums and scribbly gums. They are all part of the eucalyptus family.
Their trunks shed strips of bark as they grow each year – reddish brown ribbons peel off and hang from the ivory, sandy or salmon hued trunks for weeks on end in and around summer. Then all of a sudden they shimmer, bare and smooth as pebbles once again.
Their leaves are evergreen, the strangest misty grey blue colour tinged with a hint of green. They are thick and tough to the touch but often sweepingly long and elegantly pointed. A few types are small and almost circular and bunch closely around the branch. They can be used to make oils and for medicinal purposes. They are a koala’s exclusive diet.
The flowers of a eucalypt are initially covered with a little cap, this is what their Latin name means. They grow in profusion on fine pinkish red stems. These flowers burst free of their caps during summer, fluffy explosions of iridescent orange, red, pink, yellow and green offset by their dusky grey green leaves. They are just glorious.
Their powers of regrowth after a bushfire are phenomenal, although they are highly flammable and dangerous and can cause a fire to move at high speed. I have also been told that they should not be allowed to grow close to buildings as their roots can undermine the foundations and they tend to grow quite rapidly.
Trees are a part of the earth’s lifeblood and gum trees or eucalypts are a very special part of the Australian landscape.