Now don’t get me wrong – I appreciate a nice grassland. There is a subtlety to their beauty. And forests are cool, and they have LOTS of trees, but you always struggle to see the things you’re looking for.
No, my heart lies in Australia’s lovely temperate woodlands: where it’s not too hot, not too cold, and it’s easy to stroll through the vegetation without having to battle with the undergrowth. And the trees are THE BEST. Just the kind you want to sit under and munch on a muesli bar after a hard morning’s work.
So inspired by our lab group’s current poll to find out what Australia’s favourite Eucalypt is, here is a quick pictorial dedication to some of my favourite eucs. If I manage to convince you of their awesomeness, then maybe you should vote for them! All of these species/communities occur on prime agricultural land and are listed as threatened by the Australian or state governments.
Yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora)
Ahh – yellow box. So lovely and flakey. I caught 30 bats in this trap, and I’m not surprised, because yellow box are awesome. Just think of all the tasty morsels that must be living under that bark…
Often left as old lone survivors in otherwise barren paddocks. Livestock like to scratch themselves against yellow box, so they can end up a bit denuded, like this one.
Livestock also shelter under nice big ones like this when it gets too hot (try to overlook the lambs in an unfortunate state – the tree did its best! This was during the drought, after all)
Grey box (Eucalyptus microcarpa)
A close second, because they’re awesome habitat trees. Grey box are the BEST at forming hollows in these woodlands (here’s a paper by my friend Laura, if you need some proof). This is very important, because many critters in Australia need hollows for shelter and for breeding.
This guy knows where it’s at. Grey box is where.
River red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
Undeniably iconic, and beautifully twisty.
When the sun hits their stems you get a full appreciation of how shimmery and silvery they are.
Bimble or Poplar Box (Eucalyptus populnea)
Marcus here is pointing to a poplar box, which I like because they’re so easy to identify: shiney round leaves. That’s all you need to know. So easy to spot.
And when you strap a bat detector to them as we have done here, you tend to record lots of bat calls, which makes me exceptionally happy: we recorded 10 species at this one alone.
White Box (Eucalyptus albens)
You know what’s exceptional about white box, aside from it being a good all-round paddock tree? The degree to which we’ve managed to clear it: there’s only about 1% intact white box woodland left, and even that’s still under pressure from ongoing development and clearing (ahem). Too nice to lose, I say.
And if you put them all together, you get a lovely woodland. Ahh…