Wednesday, June 18, 2003

eucalyptus camaldulensis

They are River Red Gums then, those magnificent trees in the remnant bushland nearby. And they are Eucalyptus camaldulensis of this genera. Boynton was recently inspired by a wonderful post by Fred at Fragments From Floyd to start learning names.
But I certainly understood the intricacies of nature much less then when I lacked names for things. As a (former) teacher, I understand the grievous task of learning them, and have had to do my share of convincing students of the merits of knowing at least some creatures by their names.... Familiarity breeds respect, and in a sense, it creates friends of nameless birds, trees, flowers or insects. A friend is not a generic person but a person you recognize as unique, you know their particular history, their preferences and the relationships they have with other friends and their community

It may yet be grevious, it certainly is a conscious task, like those old tasks of data input - the French verbs and igneous rocks of school with their short term outcome that seemed rather arbritrary at the time. Members of boynton's family have lapsed into this classic horticultural dialect, but now it seems less the jargon of gardening and more an ecological key.

And the familiarity with specific trees, the relationships that Fred refers to are evident in this report on the "death event" - the crisis for the Red River Gums along the Murray. The retired horticulturalists and voluntary rangers who have the long-term first-hand knowledge of places and specific features.
"Just before Christmas John Steed, a retired horticulturst and voluntary ranger at Paringa Paddock near Renmark, noticed his favourite tree was in trouble. Until then this huge red gum had a canopy of leaves that formed a large protective circle of shade for those underneath. On a hot day half a dozen cars would be parked underneath it while their owners went fishing or swimming nearby.
"It has slowly died," Mr Steed said. "The leaves gradually dropped off or have been blown off by the wind and there is leaf litter everywhere. I've known that tree for more than 20 years."

(see also: Historic Red Gums die in Murray dry
“For the trees that we haven't seen suffer before, in particular the gums, this time they’re going out.
Garrett campaigns for red gum )

Comments: Eucalyptus camaldulensis

If it weren't for my Simpson & Day Field Guide to Australian Birds, I would never have noticed that the local population of White Plumed Honeyeaters appears to be increasing.

Nor would I have known that those big black birds I see hanging around the railway station are actually Australian Ravens. At least I think they are - to get a definite identification you need a throat hackle, and I've never got close enough to try plucking one.
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at June 18, 2003 09:03 PM

Glad about the Meliphaga penicillata ( w.p.honeyeaters) and as for the Corvus coronoides - "Its fierce, menacing looks hide what is really a cowardly scavenger" But rather than attempt that risky plucking procedure, perhaps take the more cautious approach and listen for the distinctive "drawn out, descending "ah" at the end of the call".
I presume they mean the bird.
Posted by boynton at June 18, 2003 09:56 PM

Damn it, it's taken me the past six months just to get the hang of the common names!
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at June 18, 2003 10:15 PM


I think it might be a little while before I get onto the trees ;)
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at June 18, 2003 11:00 PM

Greetings Boynton, and you have my admiration for making the effort to know names... you will not be sorry.

Our Eastern Hemlocks are dying, will be gone perhaps in time for me to see their complete demise from the eastern deciduous forest of north America. And with them, perhaps, the Black Throated Blue Warbler and others that seem to thrive in the formerly dense dark green needles of my favorite, dying tree species. Sometimes I wish I didn't know them by name.
Posted by fredf at June 18, 2003 11:05 PM

It's the other way round for me Gummo - flora then the fauna. Though as Fred points out, they're (we're) inter-connected.
Harrowing Fred, to go from field observation to commemorating in such a short time in relative terms. Recording names seems the least we can do.
Posted by boynton at June 18, 2003 11:32 PM

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