Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bloodshed at Cwm Goch - isn't it wonderful!

Relax! No human or animal was harmed in the making of this week's post! The 'blood' is from the Marri trees!. For those of you unfamiliar with Australian flora I thought I'd share some knowledge of the plants around Cwm Goch. As you can see from the photos this stuff looks like blood. In fact it's the sap from a tree called Eucalyptus Callophylla. It's also commonly known as Red Gum and Marri. The word Marri means 'blood' in the Nyoongah (Indigenous Australians from this area) language - and you can see why.
The sap has a number of medicinal uses including use as an antiseptic and remedy for stomach upsets. (Personally I think that's because it tastes so bitter that any child offered it quickly says "No thanks, I'm fine now Mum!"). At this time of year you often see the trees 'bleeding'. The Cockatoos come, listen for grubs under the tree bark and tear them out, leaving a 'wound' if you like. See photo.

In any case it's a beautiful tree and the one people know for it's 'Honkey Nuts'. These nuts are an important food source for a variety of our native birds, who eat the seeds found inside. If you look at the photo of the nuts you can see evidence of two sorts of birds. The nut which is damaged with a large chunk out of it has probably been fed on by a Port lincoln Ringneck Parrot (also known as a 'Twenty Eight'). White Tailed Black Cockatoos also eat them. If you look really closely at the other one, on the right, you can see tiny little 'C' shaped markings on it. This nut's seeds were taken by a Red-capped parrot. These beautiful birds have evolved with a longer top beak. They hold the nut with one foot, insert the lower part of their beak into the nut (that makes the mark) and use the top part as a lever to prise/slide the seeds out without damaging the nut.
You can tell a lot about what lives in an area from looking at the food sources. Sadly a lot of people in the Hills take down these trees because the Honkey nuts are annoying (might drop on your car, or make a mess in the driveway). We need to share with people the importance of these trees as a food source for our declining bird populations and hopefully inspire more people to keep them and plant more. Perhaps if this post was new info to you, you'll do just that.


Kate said...

Amazing, I have never heard of any of this! I always knew WA was really another country!!

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

WA (and in particular it's southwest) is a recognised world hotspot for it's biodiversity. We have so many fascinating plants and animals. Glad to be able to share them with you Kate.

Hedgewitch said...

Wonderful post! I will include it in my tree tribute post later this month, if that's OK with you?

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

Hi Hedgewitch - of course you can!

TheCrone said...

Aren't they gorgeous! I know that it's not a 'Honkey' nut, but I am planting a Silver Princess eucalyptus in our front garden as soon as all the grass is gone! I hope that the birds enjoy it as much as I will.

Have you seen I've only just discovered their site!

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

HI Crone - I've been trying to get to your site from my link for while and it hasn't worked - hence not dropping in for while. Must look at that link.
Re: the bushfoods, I just went to it, thanks! Very interesting.