Thursday, January 28, 2010

Making small trees out of large ones

Pink Bloodwood
Corymbia intermedia (Eucalyptus intermedia)
These lovely trees are flowering all around the district at the moment, and attracting honeyeating birds, butterflies, bees and sundry other insects with their heavy, honey scent.

This particular specimen has been coppiced - i.e. cut off at the ankles. I would estimate that the original trunk was about 50cm diameter. Regrowth has given it these seven sturdy trunks, and the result is a tree that is less than half the height of a single-trunked specimen (see photo below). This is a good way to treat any gumtree that is getting too large for its situation (and a way to have a “cut-and-come-again” firewood supply). If you want to try it, a good height to cut is about 15cm from the ground.
The Corymbia species, which include the bloodwoods and the well-known spotted gum, were once part of the genus “Eucalyptus”. They have now been separated out into a genus of their own, and can be distinguished from true eucalypts by their flowering habit - the flowers are clustered showily on the outside of the canopy, instead of being down amongst the leaves. Locally, gum-tree-like trees which flower like this are either Corymbias or applegums (Angophora species).
Pink bloodwoods are common trees on our local red soil. Koalas eat the leaves, and this is considered to be an important food tree for greater gliders. These lovely animals only eat the leaves of one or two tree species in any given area, so are very vulnerable to the loss of habitat. We could be replacing this habitat, especially in acreage gardens, but, alas, non-local Eucalyptus species are so much easier to buy in local nurseries.
Pink bloodwoods are ornamental from an early age. They are well-shaped trees, and flower from an early age - well worth seeking out.

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