Another day, another wetland, this time in the company of my rad SIL, Cass. The Maroochydore Wetlands Sanctuary at Bli Bli is, according to one of their interpretive signs, “home to 180 species of birds, 30 species of crabs, five species of mangroves, and untold species of reptiles, amphibians, insects, crustaceans, molluscs, plants and fungi.” And millions of mosquitoes. I even wore Aerogard, an exercise in futility.
I was particularly taken with the Orange Mangrove, Bruguiera gymnorhiza. It has the largest leaves of all the mangroves in the Sanctuary, bright red-orange flowers, and an interesting method of reproduction. We found a propagule that had dropped onto the boardwalk, and helpfully shot it into the mud below. According to Wikipedia, the propagules are eaten by many indigenous groups in northern Australia and southeastern Papua New Guinea, and there is also evidence of them being eaten in India, Bangladesh, and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Around here, you can’t swing a quoll (not that you would) without hitting a park or green space. Mature trees, creeks, and playgrounds abound, which provide huge quality-of-life enhancements to residents, whether they realise it or not.
Brisbane has, on average, 54 per cent green cover, though, as in most cities, affluent areas have more mature trees than poorer suburbs. (In comparison, Melbourne had just 23 per cent total tree cover in 2020, and Sydney had 34 per cent. All three cities lost green cover between 2013 and 2020.)
Needless to say, I’ve been spending time every day in the nearby green spaces, mostly just sitting and breathing it all in. Today, there was also a little sketching in a pink cafe with a fancy chandelier. It’s good to mix it up.
My sister lives on a bush block, and there is absolutely no shortage of trees here (mostly eucalypts and acacias). But I still like to add to the assortment when I visit. It started when Mum died and we planted creeping boobialla, Myoporum parvifolium, in her honour (she had breast cancer — get it?) When Dad passed he got a Grevillea ‘Ned Kelly’, to celebrate his love of Australia folk legends. We don’t need the excuse of someone dying to plant a tree; now we do it each time I come.
There’s a huge Elaeocarpus grandis tree in full flower in the park near my daughter’s house.
This rainforest tree commonly known as white quandong, blue quandong, silver quandong, blue fig or blueberry ash, is endemic to eastern Australia. It is a large tree with buttress roots at the base of the trunk, oblong to elliptic leaves with small teeth on the edges, racemes of greenish-white flowers and more or less spherical blue fruit, which are edible but bitter.
Indigenous Australians ate the fruit raw or buried the unripe fruit in sand for four days to make it sweeter and more palatable. Early settlers used the fruit for jams, pies and pickles. The fruit of E. grandis is eaten by birds, including the wompoo fruit-dove, southern cassowary and Australian brushturkey.
I have a vintage (1940s) Chinese Checkers set that belonged to my mother; the “marbles” are painted quandong seeds. It looks like this one. I am not sure if they are E. grandis seeds as there are at least a couple of dozen trees called quandong.
The blue gum Eucalyptus globulus, native to southern Australia, is one of the most widely planted eucalypts in the world*. The bark is mostly smooth, seasonally cream to pale grey to orange-tan, shedding in long strips which often remain hanging in the canopy. The trees are very fast growing (up to 60m tall), and tolerant of salt-laden coastal winds and cold temperatures.
The species has naturalised in California and become invasive in coastal areas. We have several advanced trees on our block; I don’t know whether they self-seeded or were planted by the original owner. Even though they don’t ‘belong’ here, and they drop fire fuel, we kind of love them …
*Source: Taller Eucalypts for Planting in Australia by Dean Nicolle
My daughter gifted me the four pan mineral suite from The Art of Soil. The pigments behave a little differently to regular watercolours, so I’m enjoying playing with them to learn their properties and how best to use them. They are very muted and grainy, which I love. They can be mixed with other brands to good effect. (The bright green above includes some Daniel Smith green gold.)