Friday, 25 May 2012

How to: identify Wollongong's native trees

If like me you're new to the Illawarra, identifying native trees can be something of a challenge. Some species are easy to recognise, like Illawarra flametree or NSW Christmas bush Others you get to know after a while, once you get your eye in; many eucalypt and wattle species fall into this category.

But then there are all those rainforest trees with a more or less smooth grey trunk and anonymous-looking green leaves somewhere up there in the canopy....
Mystifying tree in the Rhododendron Park
What to do?

You could try wandering around the botanic gardens or the Rhododendron Park and looking for trees with signs on them. You could go to the Janet Cosh Herbarium and check out a few of the specimens in their collection.

Or you can buy a copy of Wollongong's Native Trees by Leon Fuller. The new edition published this month contains colour photographs and a map for each species, as well as an introduction with info on history, geology and topography. The book is really an essential resource for anyone interested in trees native to the Illawarra.

I particularly appreciated the focus on the leaves of each species, which are generally accessible all year round, unlike fruit and flowers.

You can look at a preview and buy copies from http://bigbeanbooks.com/.
Now those leaves look familiar!!

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