Talking Trees

A Blog by John Halkett

Category: Nature (page 1 of 3)

When it’s cold the tough get going

Siberian larch – boreal forest.

The realm of the Siberian larch.

The largest forested region on the planet is the boreal coniferous tract, which accounts for about a third of the Earth’s total forest cover and dwarfs tropical rainforests. Boreal forests blanket a swathe around the Arctic Circle, across Alaska and into northern Canada. They cover about eight million square kilometres of Siberia alone, where they are known as the taiga. Vast amounts of carbon are lock up there, with so much biomass that worldwide levels of

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Ghost gums and the desert oak

Ghost Gums in Central Australia

This photograph was taken by my brother-in-law David Feitz. In his day he was one of the country’s outstanding photographers of the Australian outback. This Central Australian ghost gums image is emblematic of the paintings of several Australian artists. Famous amongst them was aboriginal artist Albert Namarjira. He received international acclaim as a painter, particularly for his watercolour landscapes during the 1940s and 50s. A number of his painting were renowned for their striking

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British Columbia… awe-inspiring trees and forests

Image of BC coastal temperate forest

Back from Canada where again I was super impressed with the extent and spectacle that British Columbia’s (BC) towering trees and forests present. These forests are truly massive, covering an area of about 60 million hectares. You could drop both France and Germany into BC’s forests and they would disappear beneath the trees. Not forgetting of course that they provide habitat for an iconic population of North American large animals such as black bears, cougars, deer, coyotes and grey wolves.

Most

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Purple rain in November

Jacaranda tree, Sydney.

I can’t let November pass without mentioning the stunning jacaranda trees, now so much a feature of Sydney’s cityscape. The jacaranda tree’s hold on Sydney and its imagination is now so well entrenched that the tree is often mistaken for an Australian native. It’s actually indigenous to south America.

The species most commonly planted in Sydney, Jacaranda mimosifolia, was collected and taken to the Royal Gardens at Kew, England, in about 1818. One early source gives the credit to plant

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More than just wine bottle stoppers

Harvesting Cork Trees

Cork oak, Quercus suber a medium-sized, evergreen tree is the primary source of cork for wine bottle stoppers and other uses. It is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. It grows to up to 20 metres, although it is typically more stunted in its native environment.

Cork oaks commonly live more than 200 years. Cork harvesting is done entirely without machinery. The European cork industry produces 340,000 tonnes of cork a year, with a value of €1.5 billion and employs 30,000 people.

The

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More trees – you will feel better

Couple walking dog in forest

As if being renewable, storing carbon and contributing to climate change mitigation isn’t enough – trees make you feel better – true! It’s not stretching the point to say your health and well-being are likely to be improved if you walk amongst the trees.

Increasing urbanisation means that people have less access to nature in their daily lives. Australians on average now spend about 90 per cent of their time indoors. This coincides with reports of increasing obesity and nearly half of Australians

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New Zealand’s oldest exotic tree still going strong

Williams good Christian venerable old pear tree.

Just before launching into this month’s column I want to express my appreciation to the Forestry Corporation of NSW for agreeing to continue to support and sponsor this column in 2019. So thanks to chief executive Nick Roberts and staff.

Right, well thinking of exotic trees in a New Zealand forestry context radiata pine immediately springs to mind. However, the country’s oldest exotic tree, a Williams good Christian pear tree near Kerikeri in Northland, is still going strong as it enters its

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They speak a language that the strangers do not know

Umbrella thorn acacia trees pump toxic substances into their leaves to rid themselves of browsing giraffes.

This blog begs the question do trees talk? Or perhaps more specifically do they communicate with each other? According to the dictionary definition, language is what people use when we talk to each other. Looked at this way, humans are the only beings who can use language, because the concept is limited to our species. But do trees communicate with each other? If so how, they definitely do not produce sounds, so there’s nothing to hear. It turns out trees have a completely different way of

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Araucaria trees feature of Paris of the South

Distinctive umbrella form, mature Araucaria araucana trees a feature of the streets of Buenos Aires.

Driving around the streets of Buenos Aires the capital of Argentina, as you do, it is easy to see why it is call the Paris of the South. Wide boulevards, extensive parklike gardens, and heaps of statues. Striking and so South American are the frequent mature Araucaria trees. A distinguishing feature of many South American landscapes is the Araucaria araucana trees, commonly called monkey puzzles, or Chilean pines. An evergreen tree native to central and southern Chile and

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Sydney’s Wishing Tree

The Wishing tree, Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, about 1880: Probably the most notable tree to have grown in the Gardens.

Sydney’s Botanic Gardens are an important part of Australia’s tree heritage and Australia’s oldest scientific institution. Established during the reign of King George III, the Gardens were granted the royal epithet in 1959 by his great-great-great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II. The gardens are an important part of Australia’s tree heritage. The botanic gardens are the site of the first farm which was began within weeks of the establishment of the colony of New South

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