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Aging, death and decay

Many plants live for long periods. The large trees in the woodland with trunks up to 1 m diameter may be more than 200 years old. Some of these are the largest we know of in western Sydney.

The main shrub Bursaria spinosa, Blackthorn, may also live a long time. This is because if it is cut at the base or burnt by fire it can resprout - its roots are extensive and it regrows. As long as its roots are not disturbed it can live almost indefinitely, unless it is actually killed e.g. by drought or lightning.

Many of the ground species are similar. They have rootstocks that they resprout from. Many of the shrubs and groundlayer plants may live for up to 50 years, while some ground species may live for indefinite periods. Decay and death probably occur mainly after very severe conditions such as drought and storms. A few of our woodland species are killed by fire.

Breakdown of dead plant material by insects such as termites and worms is an important component in recycling of biomass, particularly in the absence of fire.

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