Our Bushland Diary

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Grandmother Tree

Many people living around Perth have no idea of the size and antiquity of our indigenous trees.  I suspect some have never visited our extraordinary bushland areas!

I'd like to share with you some photos of "The Grandmother Tree", which lives in a Bush Forever Site next to Ellenbrook.  The base of the tree measures about 5m in circumference.  The tree species is Stout Paperbark (Melaleuca preissiana). 

Photos do not do it justice!  I haven't been able to find tables matching age of this species to its girth, so can only guess at how long it has been growing.  Since Federation (January 1901) - a mere 110 years?  Absolutely.  Since European settlement of Western Australia (in 1829), 180 years ago?  Highly likely.  I suspect this tree might be closer to 300 years old, or even more.  The soft papery bark bears scars from some bushfires over its lifetime, and has, paradoxically, protected the tree from being burnt.  These large trees provide nectar for honeyeaters and Honey Possums, as well as shelter and a place to raise their young.

You would think that such an enormous tree would stand out like a sore thumb in the landscape.  But look at this photo, taken from a hilltop.  The Grandmother Tree is in the middle distance, about 250m away, on the right.  Can you see it in this photo?

(Not the tall jarrah!)  How about in this one, a section of the above photo enlarged?  

The Grandmother Tree is in a low part of the landscape, and is the dark patch in the middle, to the left of the tall Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) which is on a hill.  It's not the only large tree in the area.  Here it is circled below in yellow.

This tree is one of our local treasures.  It, and others like it, is an important part of local biodiversity, and needs to be conserved and protected from any proposed development or changes to land planning.

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