Thursday, November 1, 2012

Scrub Whitewood

Atalaya salicifolia

I found this delightful little whitewood tree beside the New England Highway, north of Crows Nest, last weekend. It is flowering its little heart out.

 Left to reach its potential, it will grow to be a shady small tree with a trunk 30cm in diameter. Typically of many plants of our dry rainforests and vine thickets, it is suitable for growing in small gardens, or as a street tree.

By summer, its flowers will develop into bunches of brown, winged seeds.

Whitewoods are decorative from an early age, because of their interesting juvenile foliage.  
The leaf shown below is from a young plant 1 metre high. Note the winged rachis .

This more mature leaf came from the young roadside tree shown above. It has intermediate foliage - leaves broadening out, and the rachis-wing narrowing.

In older plants, the rachis disappears altogether, but the prominent swellings (pulvinules) at the base of the leaflets remain, helping us to identify the tree.

It is drought hardy, but tolerates only the lightest frosts when it is young.


Anonymous said...

Hello Trish

I am always looking for an excuse to hug my atalaya. Your descripion of a 30cm trunk diameter gave me the perfect excuse to see how mine measured up. After a longing embrace with Kate's sewing tape followed by application of some early greek mathemeticians I estimate mine to be 40cm DBH.

That should not undermine anyones views on an atalya's suitability for planting in a garden. Mine is a relic of the pre european landscape and it's size is not likley to be replicated outside a vine forest. It is still quite managable. At worst, trimming it will be a problem for some gardener several generations in the future.

Seeds are prolific and germinate very easily. The trick is to collect them when ripe but before they are scattered by the breeze.

Righto then

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi Mick.
You do have some wonderful things on your place!
Yes, I think it would take several centuries for a tree of that size to grow. It would be good to have some way of dating those old trees, wouldn't it? I think we may often underestimate the age of dry rainforest species, just because they don't grow into huge trees.