Western Australia is well known for its attractive jarrah trees. Native to the South West region of the State, these beautiful tall trees (they can grow up to 40 metres tall) have been prized over the years for their wood. A distinctive reddish hue, jarrah wood is hard and durable. It has been used extensively for cabinet making, railway sleepers and in building work.
However if you visit the forests or walk around local parks you may notice some rather sorry looking specimens – trees that are clearly dying. They have fallen victim to “Dieback” a fungal disease that attacks many Australian natives, not just jarrah trees, but many other trees and plants as well including banksias and grass trees. Basically the fungal spores in the soil (probably introduced by European settlers at some stage) infect the root systems of the trees, weakening them. The trees are then unable to take up the water and nutrition necessary for survival so over time they wilt and die.
Once it has taken hold it is almost impossible to stop though the parks departments are experimenting with phosphite fertilisers to try and strengthen the trees’ resistance to the fungal spores. You can read more about the problem and its management here.
One of our local parks has been particularly affected and we always try to avoid walking across it in case we trample mud around (especially in wet weather). Winston the Schnoodle seemed determined to go that way the other day on his morning constitutional though we kept him firmly on the path! You can clearly see the barren and stark trees contrasted with the verdant healthier ones.
We also saw some jarrah renewal areas in the winter when we took a day trip down to Dwellingup and did a train ride and nature trail in the local forest (see here). Hopefully the efforts and conservation work will pay off in time.
I’m not a botanist though I do love seeing beautiful flora whilst out and about. We came across this lovely blue shrub in an alleyway near our house. I think it may be a type of banksia – our elder granddaughter has become something of a flower expert since she started school so I will have to ask her opinion when she next comes over!
Christmas is fast approaching – am not too sure where this year has gone! If all goes to plan I’ll write up the Banff and Rockies posts before then and I still haven’t made a proper start on Alaska – I’ve taken so many photos it’s hard to know what to leave out!
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