Sunday, March 23, 2014

When the fagus changes

For a dry, sparse continent Australia has a plenty of interesting trees. We have our own bottle tree (Adasonia gregorii) from the genus of baobabs made famous by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s delightful “Le Petit Prince”;  the ancient, critically endangered and genetically homogenous Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) discovered twenty years ago in a gorge less than 200km from Sydney’s CBD; a remote but hardly redoubtable beech commonly called “fagus” (Nothofagus gunnii) one of Australia’s few indigenous deciduous trees; and to the southwest of the country lie a cluster of Christmas trees (Nuytsia floribunda) known for their striking floral displays and secret parasitic roots.

The “turning of the fagus” is an annual event for bushwalkers, sightseers, nature lovers and fellow travelling tree-huggers. A winter deciduous tree means the leaves of the fagus change colour in April-May just as the days get shorter and the weather less inviting. Particularly relevant in the remote, wet highlands of Tasmania where this small, Australian native happens to be found.

The Autumn landscape in the Tasmanian highlands can be truly spectacular for those that go out of their way to see it. Weather permitting. 

Every year, as I tick off the seasons, I like to think about that.

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