Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Leichhardt’s Ironbark

Bridelia leichhardtii
It’s interesting to see this tree at work.

Plants need something or someone to distribute their seeds about for them. Without this assistance, they would have thousands of babies with nowhere to grow but under their parents.
This tree, with its red fruits, is advertising for birds to do the job.
What it wants is for them to eat its fruit, clean its seeds, and deposit them, with a little dollop of fertiliser. It produces large numbers of fruits, so there is always a good chance that some of them will be dropped in a suitable site for growing.
Birds are attracted to the colour red. These particular  fruits are slightly translucent, and glow brightly in the sunshine, no doubt looking particularly appealing to any fruit-eating bird that flies past.
When it stops at the tree, however, it soon discovers that the red fruits are not yet ripe, but that the several black fruits scattered amongst them are soft, succulent, and no doubt delicious. Having learned this, birds are likely to return to the tree again and again during its fruiting season, spreading the fruits much more widely than they might have in just a few gorging sessions.
It is usually seen as a shady small tree, but can grow to have a prominently fissured trunk of as much as a 30cm diameter. It can also be a large, multi-trunked shrub.
It likes a well-drained soil, and can usually be found growing on hillsides, in red or black soil country.

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