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Tree Trail - Australian Botanic Garden

Go on a tour through the Australian Botanic Garden and explore our most special trees!

What you will need:

  • Safari Hat (or a regular hat will do)

  • Walking shoes that may get a little muddy

  • Water

  • Pencil or crayon

 

  • Paper for bark rubbings

  • Sense of adventure

  • Shhhhhh - Quite voices and movement (you are entering Grey-headed Flying-fox habitat)


Please be aware that touching natural parts might cause allergic reactions.

Allow approximately 1 hour

1. Grey box

Scientific name: Eucalyptus moluccana
Location: Dam

Grey box is one of the three dominant canopy trees of the Cumberland Plain Woodland. It can be spotted amongst other trees due its predominantly rough bark along the trunk and smooth upper branches.

The bark (nganda) and timber (wugan) from the Grey box is used by Aboriginal Australians for making boomerangs, coolamons, shields, woomeras, and canoes.

Activity

Tree hollows form in old, large Grey boxes and provide important habitat for birds and arboreal mammals.

​Look up and see if you can find any hollows along the trunk, right where old branches have fallen off. Is anyone home?

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2. Cumbungi (bulrush)

Scientific name: Typha orientalis
Location: Bridge over creek

Sometimes known as Bulrush, Cumbungi is a wetland plant commonly found on the edges of bodies of water and in boggy areas. Growing up to 4m high, they are an important species for protecting against stream bank erosion.

Cumbungi are a Traditional Aboriginal source of food. Their rhizomes can be roasted, new shoots can be eaten fresh, and young flower stems can be steamed. The leaves are also useful for weaving into baskets, hats and mats, and all parts of the plant can be used for thatching.

Activity

Close your eyes and carefully run your fingers along a brown flower spike. What textures do you notice?

Female Cumbungi flowers feel velvety. When pollinated, the flower heads disintegrate into a cottony fluff from which the seeds disperse by wind.

Can you find anything else in the woodland with the same texture?

3. Narrow leaved ironbark

Scientific name: Eucalyptus crebra

Narrow leaved ironbark is one of the three dominant canopy trees of the Cumberland Plain Woodland. As suggested by its name, these beautiful trees have a distinctive bark that looks like iron. Feel the thickness of this bark. Use a finger to measure this thickness! From seed to sapling, these trees will take 20–30 years before they flower and have a life span of approximately 100–200 years!

Narrow leaved ironbark is an important source of nectar in honey industry, and its hard, strong timber is used in construction.

Activity
  1. Find a fallen leaf on the ground. As its name suggests, the leaves of this species are narrow – up to 13 cm long, and only 1.5 cm wide.

  2. Hold up a leaf to the light. Can you see scattered dots? These are oil dots.

  3. Now crush the leave in your hand and smell it. What does this smell remind you of?

Answer: Eucalyptus oil! Many Eucalypt species produce a toxic oil in their leaves to prevent them from being eaten.
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4. Climbing saltbush

Scientific name: Einadia nutans

Narrow leaved ironbark is one of the three dominant canopy trees of the Cumberland Plain Woodland. As suggested by its name, these beautiful trees have a distinctive bark that looks like iron. Feel the thickness of this bark. Use a finger to measure this thickness! From seed to sapling, these trees will take 20–30 years before they flower and have a life span of approximately 100–200 years!

Narrow leaved ironbark is an important source of nectar in honey industry, and its hard, strong timber is used in construction.

Activity

Climbing saltbush produces attractive brightly fruit most of the year. Can you spot any berries? Count how many different colours you can see. Can you spot these colours elsewhere in the Woodland?

Answer: Colours will range from bright yellow to bright red. Berries become redder and softer as they ripen.

5. Forest red gum

Scientific name: Eucalyptus tereticornis

Growing up to 50 metres tall, this species is a critical overstorey component of the Cumberland Plain Woodland and is a vital food source for koalas. Unlike other tree species in this area, the Forest red gum has smooth streaky bark along its trunk.

The wood of the Forest red gum is used for fuel, charcoal, paper, poles, posts, and construction.

Activity

Let’s put the Forest red gum’s name to the test! Examine the bark of the red gum closely and count how many different shades of red you can see.

Does each shade of red have a different texture?

6. Native blackthorn

Scientific name: Bursaria spinosa

Spread all throughout the understorey of this forest is the Native blackthorn – a medium to large shrub growing up to 5m high. With plentiful small white flowers full of nectar, this species is an attractive food source for butterflies, moths, beetles and native bees from January to May.

The dense prickly foliage of the Native blackthorn provides a highly protective habitat for birds of the Woodland. Hoards of Pittosporum beetle can sometimes be found covering the blackthorn branches in a moving mass.

Activity

Smell the flowers of the Native blackthorn. What do they smell like? The flowers are sweetly perfumed which help attract pollinators (it also makes for a popular garden plant!).

Can you spot any tiny critters feasting on the nectar?

7. Sticky hop bush

Scientific name: Dodonaea viscosa

This genus of plant is known as hop bush as they were used to make beer by early European settlers. This species has also been traditionally used by Aboriginal people to treat toothaches, cuts, and stingray stings. An extremely hardy species growing up to 4 metres tall, the Sticky hop bush is an important pioneer species used in the regeneration of degraded sites.

A standout feature of this plant is its brilliant colours! Don’t be fooled – these colourful parts are not flowers but in fact seed capsules. The flowers of the Sticky hop bush are actually inconspicuous with no petals at all!

Activity

Hop bushes rely on ants for seed dispersal. Look below you for fallen seed capsules. Can you see any ants busily harvesting seeds? What other insect activity can you see beneath your feet?

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8. Kangaroo grass

Scientific name:Themada triandra

Kangaroo grass is one of the most recognisable members of the grass family in Australia, with its interestingly textured foliage and unique seed head shape. Kangaroo grass towers over most ground cover, growing up to 1.5 m tall! Its seeds form an important food source for birds in the Woodland.

Fun Fact

As well as feeding birds, the seeds of Kangaroo grass can also be ground for flour. Evidence indicates its use by Indigenous communities up to 65,000 years ago.

Due to its resilience to prolonged drought and low reliance on fertiliser, Kangaroo grass is growing in popularity as a highly sustainable grain crop!

Activity

Set your timer to 2 minutes and try to stand very still without saying anything. Count the birds that you will see or hear during this time of stillness.

(Make sure everyone around you is still too – if you move or say something, start all over again!)

 

 

9. Parramatta wattle

Scientific name: Acacia parramattensis

The Parramatta wattle is a tall shrub species part of the pea family. Although a widespread species, the Parramatta wattle is native to the Sydney Basin, Blue Mountains, and surrounding regions of NSW. Examine the leaves of the Parramatta wattle. How does this leaf differ to those you have seen so far? The leaves of this wattle are bipinnate, which means ‘twice divided’. The leaf is divided into tiny leaflets (pinnules).

Fun fact

The Parramatta wattle can regenerate very quickly after fire and other disturbances due to its ability to ‘sucker’. ‘Suckering’ involves the growth of shoots from the base of the shrub to quickly form a grove of plants.

Activity

Wattle flowers are vibrant yellow – take some minutes and have a look around.

What other colours can you see in the Cumberland Plain Woodlands?

10. African Olive

Scientific name: Olea euopaea subsp cuspidate

African olive is an aggressive woody weed that invades native bushland. The dense shade it produces, and the many leaves dropped by these weeds puts rare ground plants at risk, and removes important habitat for insects. A single individual can grow to 10 metres high, live to 100 years and produce 25,000 olives in a year!

The olives produced by these trees are inedible by humans, but readily consumed by birds who spread their seeds to other locations. Swing by the Australian PlantBank to learn about the African olive problem is being managed at the Australian Botanic Garden.

Activity

Pick up a fallen African olive leaf and a Eucalypt leaf.

Are they similar or different? Examine their colours and textures on both sides of the leaf. The African olive leaf is much glossier, darker in colour, and may feel hairy on its underside.

Where do you think the African Olive normally grows?