Thursday, January 12, 2012
Red flowering gums ablaze: Phillip Is.
During January, red flowering gums are at their very best in and around Phillip Island. This eucalypt (Eucalyptus ficifolia), is the most striking and brilliantly flowered of the eucalypts. They are, however, sensitive to the frost, therefore tend to grow in coastal locations.
Ablaze with flowers, their colours are so brilliant it seems they've been lit from within. Colours vary from white, to creamy pinks, oranges and apricots -- then on to brilliant crimsons and scarlets. The blossoms hum with the activity of bees gathering nectar and pollen; and there are beetles and insects too.
Without flowers, the tree is ordinary in shape and size. The trunk is straight with rough grey bark that crumbles easily when touched, and the leaves are thick. When crushed between your fingers the leaves release a faint eucalyptus smell.
A flowering gum's seed is stored in a plump nut. The gum nut is reminiscent of children's stories where gumnut babies play a key role.