Eucryphia lucida (Labill.) Baill.
Leatherwood may grow to a tall tree some 30 m in height but is more commonly a medium-sized tree of 10-15 m with a diameter of 0.5-0.6 m, or at times only a tall shrub, particularly in the understorey of wet sclerophyll forest. It usually has a deep, compact crown and when in flower is quite showy.
This species is endemic to Tasmania. It is fairly common in the wetter western region, from the Catamaran River in the south to the Arthur River in the north-west with small occurrences on South Bruny Island and Mt Wellington.
Leatherwood occurs on a fairly wide range of topography. It is generally found on soils of intermediate to low fertility, including deep clays to shallow wet peaty soils overlying quartzite or schist.
This tree occurs in cool temperate rainforests (nano-phyll moss forests) with myrtle beech (Nothofagus cun-ninghamii), southern sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum) and blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon). It commonly occurs also in the understorey of mixed forests, which include tall eucalypts such as messmate (E. obliqua), alpine ash (E. delegatensis) or Smithton peppermint (E. nitida). It regenerates freely on disturbed sites.
This is the premier tree species for honey production in Tasmania. It flowers over a long period and produces a pale, scented honey, which candies quickly.
Related species: Eucryphia is a genus with 8 species, 3 of which occur in Chile. Floyd (1989) suggests these species have distributions that show some similarity with the ancient, relictual genus Nothofagus. Of the Australian Eucryphia species E. milliganii is a shrub, which occurs at generally higher altitudes in Tasmania, and E. moorei (pinkwood) is a graceful tree which grows in temperate rainforests (microphyll fern forest) on the south coast of New South Wales and an adjacent area in Victoria. Forster and Hyland (1997) described a shrubby species, E. wilkiei from Mt Bellenden Ker in northern Queensland and E. jinksii from southern Queensland.
Publication: Hist. Plantes 1, 402 (1867-69). Type: Tasmania, J.J. Labillardiere.
Names: Botanical—Eucryphia, from the Greek eu (well, thoroughly), plus kryphios (hidden), alluding to the sepals which are joined at the tips to form a protective cap to the buds; lucida, from the Latin lucidus (shiny, clear), apparently in allusion to the shiny leaves. Common—probably in reference to the toughness of the timber.
Bark: Dark green to grey-brown, smooth, often has lichens.
Leaves: Cotyledons—shortly petiolate, elliptical, 0.4-0.5 X 0.2-0.25 cm, slightly hairy with small interpetiolar stipules. Seedling—opposite, petioles about 0.1-0.5 cm long, oblong about 0.5-3 X 0.3-1 cm, first 5 leaf pairs with up to 5 teeth at leaf apices, green above paler beneath; interpetiolar stipules, triangular, about 0.1 X 0.2 cm, adnate to stem with only tips free; brown hairs covering stem and leaves. Adult— opposite, simple, shortly petiolate, oblong with a rounded point, 2.5-4.5 X 1.5-2 cm, rather stiff with a dark glossy green
upper surface and pale undersurface; stipules interpetiolar; the young leaves and buds are covered by a clear orange or brownish gum.
Inflorescences: Flowers are borne singly in the axils of upper leaves on pedicels about 1 cm long. Sepals are united to form an operculum, which is shed as the petals expand. Petals 4, white (rarely pink), free, spreading widely, about 1.8 cm in diameter. Stamens numerous, white or cream with red anthers. The 5-7 carpels are joined but the styles are free.
Fruits: Woody or leathery capsules opening into boat-shaped, beaked valves; seeds numerous, winged.
Wood: Sapwood not susceptible to Lyctus attack; heartwood pink to brown, with a straight grain and fine uniform texture; growth rings visible but not conspicuous and there may be numerous small knots; pores minute, very numerous, scattered; medium density 635-845 kg m-3. The timber is of medium strength that seasons well without distortion or checking. The wood is tough, has good working properties, and glues, nails, bends, turns and polishes well. Availability is limited and only in small sizes.
Climate: Altitudinal range: near sea level to 800 m; Hottest/ coldest month: 20-22°C/2-5°C; Frost incidence: moderate to high (upland sites receive 20-50 per year with occasional light snowfalls); Rainfall: 1000-2000 mm per year, uniform.
Distinctive features: Showy flowers and simple, oblong, opposite leaves with gum-covered leaf buds.
Eucryphia lucida 1. Pair of adult leaves 2. Fruiting branch 3. Fruits 4. Flowers 5. Tree, near Smithton, Tas. 6. Seedling 7. Bark
Black Bean Moreton Bay Chestnut
Black bean is a tall tree up to 40 m in height and with stem diameters to 1.2 m. The stem is not prominently buttressed while the crown is very dense, consisting of abundant dark green glossy foliage. The species is most attractive at flowering time with sprays of orange-red, pea-shaped flowers. The large pendant, cylindrical, bean-like fruits are also conspicuous in the crown.
This species occurs from near Lismore, New South Wales, to Iron Range, Cape York Peninsula, in northern Queensland. It also extends to New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. Black bean is present in the Bellinger and Orara Valleys, New South Wales, but it is not certain that these are natural stands (A.G. Floyd, pers. comm.). It extends inland to the Bunya Mountains in southern Queensland.
The species is common along the banks of streams and rivers in rather sheltered sites or sometimes on terraces upslope from river banks. Soils are river alluvia or deep loams on basalt.
Black bean typically occurs in gallery-type rainforests. These include subtropical and tropical rainforests. The species is often dominant in riverine rainforests. Common associates include weeping satinash (Waterhousea floribunda), silky oak (Grevillea robusta), brown pine (Podocarpus elatus), white handlewood (Streblus brunonianus) and various Ficus spp. In northern Queensland common associates include blush walnut (Beilschmiedia obtusifolia), northern laurel (Cryptocarya hypospodia), cheesewood (Nauclea orientalis) and creek satinash (Syzygium australe).
Related species: Black bean is the sole species of this genus.
Publication: Pict. Australia 149 (1829). Lectotype: Morton Bay, Queensland, A. Cunningham s.n. fide D.J. Mabberley, Newslett. Austral. Syst. Bot. Soc. 70, 15 (1992).
Names: Botanical—Castanospermum, from the Latin castanea (a chestnut), plus Greek spermum (seeded), alluding to the fact that the seed is similar in colour and shape to that of the Spanish chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.); australe, from the Latin australis (southern). Common—refers to the timber colour (black) and the fruit shape (bean-like).
Bark: Grey to brown, slightly rough with very small pustules; outer blaze cream and granular in texture, inner blaze bright yellow with orange vertical stripes. The outer cut blaze has an odour like that of cucumber or pumpkin.
Leaves: Cotyledons—cryptocotylar, 2 large hemispherical cotyledons. Seedling—alternate, petiole bases enlarged near the stem, imparipinnate with compound leaves 10-12 cm long; individual leaflets glossy green, opposite to subopposite, 4-5 pairs, more or less in one plane, lanceolate to slightly ovate, about 5 X 1.5 cm; stem green with brownish white lenticels. Adult—alternate, imparipinnate, 20-35 cm long, about 8-17 mostly alternate leaflets with margins entire; petiolules 0.4-0.7 cm long; narrow elliptical or oval, often unequal-sided at base, obtuse, about 8-17 X 3-6 cm, upper surface glossy green, discolorous; midrib, lateral veins (6-14 pairs) and net veins visible both surfaces.
Inflorescences: Racemes up to 15 cm long, pedicels slender and about 2.5 cm long, flowers 4-5 cm long and very attractive. Usually cauline or at least produced on twigs below the leaves. Calyx waxy-yellow, bell-shaped up to 2 X 1.5 cm and 5-lobed at the apex, sparsely covered with small brown hairs. Petals coriaceous, changing from greenish yellow to deep orange, the largest (standard) about 3-4 X 3 cm and 2-lobed at the apex. Stamens yellow, 8-10, all free, incurved, about 4-5 cm long, alternately long and short. Anthers about 0.4 X 0.15 cm and can dehisce in the bud stage. Ovary on a stalk about 1.5-2 cm long, 1-celled, ovules about 3-4. Style 1-2 cm long, glabrous; stigma small, terminal. Flowers Oct.-Nov.
Fruits: Large, woody, pendant cylindrical legumes about 15-25 X 4-5 cm, 2-valved, slightly falcate, with 3-5 cells separated by a spongy substance, containing 3-5 round or compressed, large, brown-coated seeds about 3-5 cm diameter. Mature Feb.-Apr.
Wood: Sapwood varies from white to yellow, susceptible to Lyctus attack; heartwood dark chocolate-brown to almost black (an unusual colour in Australian rainforest trees), straight grained but sometimes interlocked, coarse-textured, durable when exposed to weather and in the ground, density about 565-810 kg m-3. The wood of black bean is highly figured and is one of Australia's most attractive cabinet timbers and is highly prized for carved and inlay work, furniture, panelling, plywood and joinery. It is suitable for the production of sliced veneers with highly attractive figure.
Climate: Altitudinal range: 50-1000 m; Hottest/coldest month: 30-35°C/10-20°C; Frost incidence: mainly low but ranging to moderate at upland sites in the south of its range; Rainfall: 1000-3800 mm per year, summer max.
Distinctive features: Large tree, stem not buttressed, glossy dark green pinnate leaves, large cylindrical legumes 10-25 cm long, and large, attractive, orange, pea-shaped flowers.
Castanospermum australe 1. Inflorescence at bud stage 2. Fruit 3. Adult leaves 4. Flower 5. Seedling 6. Tree, near Wiangaree, N.S.W. 7. Bark 8. Seeds
Grey Corkwood Corkwood, Batswing Coral Tree
Grey corkwood is usually a small to medium-sized tree attaining a height of 15 m and a diameter of 0.3 m. Occasionally large specimens reach 30 m tall and 0.8 m diameter. The stem is not buttressed. The leaves resemble batwings and make this species a conspicuous tree in northern Australia. The species is deciduous during the dry season and often flowers while leafless.
This species has a wide distribution across northern Australia occurring north and south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It is widespread in coastal and inland Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Kimberley and Hamersley regions of Western Australia and extends to northern New South Wales. Reported from near Oodnadatta and Cleland Hill in northern South Australia but not located recently at these sites. Some offshore occurrences include Thursday Island, Queensland, and Dolphin and Barrow Islands, Western Australia.
Soils vary considerably, as might be expected with a species occurring from the western to the eastern coasts of Australia.
Grey corkwood occurs in a wide range of vegetation types from drier rainforest to desert, and is associated with a diverse range of species.
Related species: There are only 2 or 3 other species of Erythrina native to Australia. E. variegata, is a tree of the tropical seashores; E. insularis is probably conspecific with E. vespertilio; and there is an undescribed species.
Publication: J. Exped. Trop. Australia 218 (1848). Type: Maranoa?, Queensland, T. Mitchell.
Names: Botanical—Erythrina, from the Greek erythros (red), plus inos, a suffix denoting colour, alluding to the red colour of the flower; vespertilio, from the Latin vespertilio (a bat), alluding to the bat-like shape of the leaflets of some forms of this species. Common—alludes to the lightweight greyish timber.
Bark: Pale, corky, fissured and sometimes with a scattering of short spines.
Leaves: Cotyledons—cryptocotylar. Seedling—first 2-3 pairs opposite, unifoliolate; petioles about 2 cm long; deltoid, about 3-5 X 4-8 cm, with 2 apiculate stipules about 0.3 X 0.1 cm at the base of the petiole, and also 2 stipules at the base of the leaf joint. Leaves at node 4-8, on petioles about 3-5 cm long, are alternate, imparipinnate, consisting of 3 deltoid leaflets with the middle leaflet slightly larger than the 2 side ones, about 4.5 X 5.5 cm, petiolules 0.5-2 cm long. Stem, petioles and leaf edges have sharp thorns up to 0.1-0.2 cm long. The root near ground level is quite enlarged. There is considerable variation in leaflet shape depending on locality. Adult—spirally arranged on twigs, which are often spiny, pinnate with 3 leaflets, petiolules 0.4-0.6 cm long. Leaflets very variable, three-lobed on trees in the wetter areas and about 10 X 12 cm but two-lobed and broadly V-shaped on trees in dry areas, each lobe about 3-4 X 0.5 cm. Lateral veins 1-7.
Inflorescences: Terminal or axillary racemes up to 25 cm long, flowers large, pedicels slender, about 1-1.5 cm long. Calyx cylindrical about 1.5 cm long, splitting along one side.
Petals red or orange, variable in size, the largest petal (standard) about 3 X 1.5 cm, marked by numerous longitudinal veins, other petals much smaller (about 1 cm long). Stamens 10, filaments about 3 cm long, 9 filaments fused for the greater part of their length and 1 filament free. Anthers versatile, about 0.3 X 0.1 cm. Ovary stalked, 1-celled, with 6 ovules. Style about 1.5 cm long, approximately the length of the stamens, base covered in a mass of brown hairs. Flowers Jul.-Nov.
Fruits: Legumes about 12 X 1-1.5 cm, seeds 4-6, orange or red, reniform about 1.2 X 0.6 cm.
Wood: Sapwood susceptible to Lyctus attack; heartwood pale brown with silky lustre and pronounced figure, soft, light, neither strong nor durable, density 165-200 kg m-3 makes it one of the lightest Australian hardwoods. The species is of little commercial value, but the wood is light enough to serve as a substitute for cork, and has been used for insulating boards, surfboards and floats. Its leaves and flowers make it an attractive ornamental.
Climate: Altitudinal range: near sea level to 800 m; Hottest/ coldest month: 30-39°C/5-20°C; Frost incidence: variable (frost-free coastal areas to inland areas which receive about 10-15 frosts per year); Rainfall: 150-1700 mm per year, mainly summer max.
Distinctive features: Corky bark, pinnate leaves with 3 batwing-shaped leaflets, red flowers, legumes and red or orange seeds.
Erythrina vespertilio 1. Adult leaves and branches 2. Adult leaf with leaflets 3. Seedling, elongated leaflet form 4. Seedling, short leaflet form 5. Flowers 6. Inflorescence 7. Tree, northern Qld 8. Fruit dehiscing and exposing seeds 9. Bark
Myrtle Beech Myrtle (Tas.)
Nothofagus cunninghamii (Hook.) Oerst.
Myrtle beech is a tall to very tall tree attaining 30-40 m in height and 1.5-2.5 m in diameter on optimum sites. It is also common as an understorey tree 6-18 m in height in tall open forests or as a shrub less than 1.5 m tall at high altitudes and on sites exposed to wind. On good sites it is a well-formed tree with a long straight trunk, slight buttresses or basal burls with adventitious shoots at the butt and on the lower part of the trunk, and a dark green, fine-textured crown, which may have a ragged appearance. Multi-stemmed trees are more common in Victoria than in Tasmania.
This species is common in western and north-eastern Tasmania with small areas of occurrence on Tasman Peninsula and South Bruny Island, and extends in Victoria from the Otway Range and Wilsons Promontory to the Federation Range. The most easterly occurrence in Victoria is Bulga National Park.
Myrtle beech occurs on a wide range of topography, from moist sheltered gullies through moderate to steep slopes, to broad ridgetops and plateaux. The only sites in which it does not occur are shallow rocky ridges and periodically waterlogged sites. Soils are derived from a range of parent materials, from shales, arkose, metamorphics and granite to basalt. Best growth is on deep red loams developed from basalt, in north-western Tasmania.
Myrtle beech either grows in pure stands, with the tree fern Dicksonia antarctica as the only vascular species in the understorey, or as the major component in cool temperate rainforest (nanophyll moss forest). It is usually associated with southern sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), leatherwood (Eucryphia lucida) and the conifers King William pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides) and celery top pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius). With these associates it often forms a dense understorey beneath tall eucalypts, in regions with rainfall of 1100-1600 mm. There is often a tall shrub layer of Leptospermum species, Pittosporum bicolor and horizontal (Anodopetalum big-landulosum). Above about 600 m there is sometimes an overstorey of King William pine, while along streams and on alluvial flats at low altitudes Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii) was at one time common (now mostly harvested). Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) is also common on wetter sites. Above about 900 m myrtle beech is reduced to a shrub, and may be replaced to some extent by tanglefoot beech (Nothofagus gunnii). In Victoria it may be associated with tall eucalypts (E. regn-ans, E. delegatensis, E. nitens), southern sassafras and silver wattle (Acacia dealbata).
Myrtle beech is fire-sensitive but regenerates vigorously from seed on disturbed sites. In Victoria the elaborate development of epicormic buds also enables trees to regenerate by coppicing after fire. Trees are subject to attack by pinhole borer (Platypus subgranosus), which is a serious insect pest because the holes produced allow
the entry of a pathogenic fungus. This causes widespread mortality especially in disturbed forests, e.g. along roadsides. An obligate parasitic fungus, Cyttaria gunnii, often grows on myrtle beech, its fructifications resembling bunches of yellow grapes on the branches, from November to January.
Related species: There is a second species of Nothofagus in Tasmania, tanglefoot (N. gunnii), which grows mainly at higher altitudes, has larger leaves and is deciduous during winter. It is normally a scrambling shrub. Negrohead beech (N. moorei) occurs in northern New South Wales and Queensland and has larger leaves than N. cunninghamii.
Publication: Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. Ser. 5, 9, 355 (1871). Type: syntypes collected in Tasmania at Pine Cove, and Macquarie Harbour, by A. Cunningham; Emu Bay, by J. Backhouse; side of Mt Wellington, by J. Backhouse; western parts of Tasmania, by Dr Milligan and R. Gunn.
Names: Botanical—Nothofagus, from the Greek notho (false), plus Latin fagus (a beech tree), alluding to the fact that it differs from the northern hemisphere beech, Fagus spp.; cunninghamii honours A. Cunningham (1791-1839), an explorer and botanical collector mainly in eastern Australia. Common—origin of myrtle is unknown.
Bark: Brown, scaly and slightly fibrous.
Leaves: Seedling—alternate, petioles to 0.1-0.2 cm long, ovate, about 0.7-1.5 X 0.4-0.9 cm, crenulate, glossy green above and dull beneath, nervation only slightly visible on both surfaces; stipules about 0.1-0.3 cm long with a broad base tapering into a fine point at the apex. Adult—shade leaves are borne in flattened sprays, and are alternate, shortly petiolate, ovate to almost triangular, 1-1.8 cm X 1-1.5 cm, with a coarsely and bluntly toothed margin, thick, stiff and slightly convex with a dark green shining upper surface marked by translucent glands; sun leaves are smaller (0.6-1.2 X 0.5-1 cm) and are inclined upwards. New leaves in spring are red to bronze-coloured; the narrow membranous stipules fall early.
Inflorescences: Flowers are borne on newly expanded shoots near the ends of the branches, on short lateral shoots and with
Nothofagus cunninghamii 1. Adult leaves on branchlet 2. Pair of adult leaves 3. Seedling 4. Male inflorescence 5. Nut 6. Pair of stipules at the base of a leaf 7. Bark 8. Stand, near the Arthur River, Tas. 9. Female inflorescences 10. Tree, near the Arthur River, Tas.
female flowers above the male. Males—solitary or occasionally in threes, with a short stalk bearing a broadly bell-shaped, 6-lobed perianth about 0.25 cm long containing 8-12 stamens. Females—normally 3 together with an involucre of gland-tipped bracts about 0.15 cm long; there are 3 minute gland-tipped perianth lobes on the angles of the ovary and 3 broad thick blunt stigmas. Flowers in spring.
Fruits: Each fruit has an involucre which separates into 4 valves each about 0.6 cm long and with 4 or 5 rows of curved teeth. Within the involucre are 3 nuts; the two outer nuts have 3 wings and the central nut is flat. Seeds are shed late summer to early autumn.
Wood: Sapwood white; often with a wide, pale-coloured intermediate zone, heartwood, pink to red-brown with straight or slightly interlocked grain, occasionally a wavy figure, fine uniform texture, moderate strength, hard and tough but only moderately durable, density 585-795 kg m-3. The wood has visible growth rings and pores which are small, numerous and scattered. Timber colour is reputedly paler in trees grown on poor soil than on good soil. Seasons and reconditions with difficulty, but works well and has excellent bending qualities. A beautiful furniture and cabinet timber, also used for panelling, parquetry and flooring, veneers, turnery and formerly heels for shoes.
Climate: Altitudinal range: near sea level to 1570 m with best development below about 700 m; Hottest/coldest month: 20-25°C/0-5°C; Frost incidence: low to heavy (snowfalls at higher localities); Rainfall: 1100-2500 mm per year, winter max.
Distinctive features: The small, toothed, shining leaves arranged in fan-like fronds and, on large trees, the dark brown scaly bark, commonly with adventitious shoots, are distinctive in its area of occurrence. The presence of a bright, orange, parasitic fungus 'myrtle orange' (Cyttaria gunnii) causes woody lumps to form on branches and by association readily aid the observer in distinguishing this species.
The relatively small leaves of myrtle beech (Nothofagus cunninghamii), the abundant mosses and epiphytes and an understorey of ferns dominated by the tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica), give Australian temperate rainforests a distinctive appearance, Bulga National Park, Victoria (above and below, images: O. Strewe).
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