Thursday, February 11, 2010


Red seeds of Pittosporum bicolor (Photo: Rob Wiltshire)

This week is a little odd for me; I feel I should be at Mt Field National Park immersed in native plants with Rob.

Nothofagus gunnii - deciduous beech or fagus (Photo: Rob Wiltshire)

The week long field trip was the highlight of my undergraduate studies, and in later years I went along to help out with the students. Even though the itinerary is the same every year, there was always a new plant, fruit or flower to find.

Notelaea ligustrina – Native Olive (Photo: Rob Wiltshire)

It’s where I learnt that “the bush” is not one homogenous form, but varies with altitude, rainfall, aspect, soil type or underlying rock. I came to learn what species of plants are indicative of rainforest, dry or wet eucalypt forests, alpine or moorland. How each site is different even within these broad vegetation types. To break up the vegetation into layers: canopy, understory, and groundcover. How plants adapt to the environment with leaf shape and size. Or indeed how many species converge into a cushion or micro herbfield to survive in alpine areas. To identify plants by flowers, colour, leaf shape or smell.

This brings me to a few tools I wish I’d had when I was learning. EucaFlip and TreeFlip; Rob’s two publications to help anyone identify Tasmania’s native eucalypts and other trees. Now this may seem biased, but I think they are quite beautiful. You can find out more about them here. But it doesn’t tell you that upon request, a class set will be distributed to any school in Tasmania for free. Children love them, and are great at using them to identify trees, a wonderful way to get them interested in our native flora. So here’s hoping for a whole generation of Tasmanian botanists.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Wow! I love this. The photos are incredible. I've been looking for some great botanical information on Tasmania and these look ideal.

The fagus shot is so beautiful!

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