Clove plantations were forbidden by the seventeen century Dutch outside a few islands in the Moluccas to preserve their monopoly.
Along with other ‘spices’ cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) were part of the driving force behind the rush by the European seventeenth-century colonising nations, including the Dutch, British and Spaniards to find a passage around Cape Horn to ‘claim’ parts of southeast Asia and exploit the ‘spices’ and ship them back to Europe where they were valuable and a welcome improvement to traditional diets.
Cloves are one of the prized spices traded since ancient times through… Read more “Spice islands tree key to seventeenth-century colonisers’ trade”
The pōhutukawa is one of twelve Metrosideros species endemic to New Zealand and has an important place in New Zealand culture for its strength and beauty.
The pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), is New Zealand’s most colourful flowering tree. Its canopy bursts into a sheet of brilliant crimson red (or occasionally orange, yellow or white) blossom in early summer, which earns it the alternative name of New Zealand Christmas Tree.
Pōhutukawa is a coastal evergreen tree in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae and it found on the Northern half of the New Zealand ‘s North Island, evergreen coastal forest… Read more “Coastal beauty a New Zealand Christmas celebration”
Japan is particularly famous for its cherry blossom due its large number of varieties and the nationwide celebrations during the blooming season.
A cherry blossom is the flower from a Prunus tree, of which there are many different kinds. Cherry blossoms are found throughout the world being especially common in regions in the Northern Hemisphere with temperate climates, including Japan, China, and Korea, as well as Nepal, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, and several areas across northern Europe.
Japan is particularly famous for its cherry flowers due its large number of varieties… Read more “Exquisite, specular cherry blossoms”
The tallest tree on the African continent
I remember back in the last century when I was a kid sleeping on a kapok mattress. Put your hand up if you remember doing the same.
Of course, kapok filled mattresses are a product of the kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra). A tree that when mature is an impressive sight – the tallest tree on the African continent – soaring up to as high as a 20-story building, with a huge dense spreading canopy. Not surprisingly local inhabitants usually referred to kapok trees as “pillars that support the sky”.
When young the kapok tree trunk is bright green with groups… Read more “From mattresses to psychotherapy – the amazing kapok tree”
The remnants of what was once a more extensive forest.
There are few avenues were people drive out just to see at sunset, but the Avenue of the Baobabs at Morondava draws admirers from all over the world. A dusty road half an hour’s drive north of the town of Morondava on the west coast of Madagascar passes through a stunning grove of baobabs, the remnants of what was once a more extensive forest.
The famous Avenue of the Baobabs has perhaps more than 100 trees in the grove. The species – the biggest and most famous of Madagascar’s six species of baobabs – is Adansonia grandidieri taking its name from two… Read more “Madagascar baobabs – a worldwide attraction”
A throwback to the days of Gondwanaland
I have always been intrigued by King Billy or King William pine. I haven’t seen one in the wild, so a trip to Tasmania beckons! In a country now dominated by eucalypt trees King Billy pine is a throwback to the days of Gondwanaland. Then of course species of ancient conifer trees ruled the Southern Hemisphere.
Today very few of these ancient conifers remain where they co exits only in Tasmania along with a few other Gondwanaland conifer relicts and the broadleaf Tasmanian myrtle (Nothofagus cunninghamii). Those that do have retreated to small scattered refugees… Read more “King Billy pine a nod to Tassie’s geological ancestry”
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 white truck ghost gums that are today part of the fabric of the Australian identity. His paintings earned… Read more “Ghost gums and the desert oak”
Living in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of King’s Cross as I do the dominant tree in the neighbourhood is the deciduous London plane tree. With large maple-like leaves and towering height the London plane is a tree of pump and circumstance. The branches begin high up the trunk so that mature trees have a lofty, architectural quality, giving plenty of shade without restricting the view at street level.
Planted throughout London in the nineteenth century to complement the cities imposing squares and thoroughfares, the plane tree was the ideal symbol for the capital of a growing empire.… Read more “Famous London plane trees disappearing from Sydney streets”
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 hunter Allan Cunningham, who was sent on from Rio de Janiero to NSW, where he would later briefly serve as colonial… Read more “Purple rain in November”
Now the national tree of Peru and Ecuador, Cinchona changed the course of world history. There are more than 20 species of this impressive 25 metre tree with large, shiny, conspicuously veined leaves and deliciously fragrant, white to lilac-pink flowers that grow in small clusters, generally pollinated by butterflies and hummingbirds. But the tree’s real claim to fame is the effectiveness of its bark for treating malaria.
In the early seventeenth century, when Spanish colonists and Jesuit missionaries in Peru were first introduced to Cinchona bark, there was no malaria in South America.… Read more “‘Powder of the Devil’ … the revolutionary cure for malaria”