Diary of a Red Gum May-December 2016

The red gum in our street started 2016 with a high volume of healthy buds, but these were steadily lost in windy storms through the year. After the tree dropped its eighth branch in 12 months, in May the Council sent in the tree trimmers, who administered a serious hair cut through the middle canopy and over-hanging branches. Nearly one-third of the canopy disappeared, with its bud crop.

Challenges continued with multiple storms through winter and spring combining heavy rains and wind, with piles of debris post-storm representing significant losses of immature buds and fruit. A serious hail storm in November with hail the size of golf balls did not cause as much damage as the previous year, when hail the size of marbles stripped large amounts of foliage from the red gum.

But by late November, the tree was recovered and full of life, covered in luxuriant dense flower clusters and reverberating with the steady hum of bees. The dawn chorus was in full voice, as shrieking rainbow lorikeets drank nectar from the flowers. The ground was covered with a carpet of cream stamens and crunchy flower caps.

After a tumultuous year with continuous losses, plenty of buds survived for a profuse flowering event, with the flowers now transitioning into immature fruit which will develop seed for summer 2017.

The heavy flowering in November also provided evidence in support of the hypothesis that red gums have alternate heavy and light annual flowering volumes. This tree previously flowered profusely in November 2014, but only lightly in November 2015. The new prediction is thus for light flowering in November 2017.

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About redgumgirl

Dr Anne Jensen is an environmental consultant with a passionate interest in sustainable management of our natural resources, particularly the River Murray and wetland environments. She is particularly interested in using photographs and stories to explain issues around water and protecting natural ecosystems in terms that are understood by the wider community, so that we can manage our environment sustainably for our common future.
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