Wildflowers, Photos.....Marble Gum - Eucalyptus gongylocarpa

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Any desert traveller that has driven through the Great Victoria Desert area will testify to the sheer beauty of this majestic Eucalyptus tree that stands out from all other vegetation that grows in this desert environment.

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Eucalyptus gongylocarpa or Marble Gum has 2 alternative names, Desert Gum or Bara Gum and was know to the Aboriginal people as Para. One of the uses for the Marble Gum by the local Aboriginal people of the area was, on the trees that had straight trunks, to make Piti’s or Coolamons from the bark of the tree. There are many fine examples of trees whose bark has been removed for this purpose to be seen along sections of the Anne Beadell Highway.

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The Marble Gum is a single trunked tree ranging in size from 10 – 20 metres tall with a broad shady crown. Often the tree will branch near the base with a gnarled or spreading appearance and has a smooth white and mottled bark with loose red brown flakes with usually lobed spinifex as an understory.

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Juvenile leaves are the opposite of the adult leaves, being without stalks, round to oval, with a white waxy covering, persistent but are gradually replaced by waxy or grey – green elliptical adult leaves of 4 – 7cm long x 10 – 15mm wide and with a short stalk. After infrequent good rains, inconspicuous creamy white flowers in axillary clusters of 7 club shaped buds with long stalks will appear. The fruits are spherical, 6 – 10mm in diameter and resembling a marble, giving the popular common name, Marble Gum.

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Marble Gums are found in the deep wind blown sand on plains and low vegetated dunes, or in clayey soils in swales or interdune corridors of the south western corner of the Northern Territory and through the Great Victoria Desert areas in Western Australia and as far east as Vokes Hill in South Australia.

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Any large single stemmed eucalypt tree found in the Great Victoria Desert will be a Marble Gum, as the beauty of this distinctive species is unmistakable and unlikely to be confused with any other species in its natural environment.

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The first European to have seen this majestic tree in this desert area, but not collect any samples was the noted Explorer, Ernest Giles during his fourth expedition into the then unnamed and uncharted deserts of South and Western Australia. In the Queen Victoria Springs area in September 1875 the party was saved when they came across their first major water supply in more than 300 miles. As this water supply was the salvation of his party, Giles named the Desert that he had just crossed and the claypan in honour of Queen Victoria.

The first European to collect samples of this tree was Richard Helms, leader of the Elder Expedition, when he collected samples in early July 1891 at their camp 17 of the Expedition, 40 kilometres south – west of Mt Watson in the Birksgate Range on the desert’s northern fringe. At the time when the samples were collected, it was believed to be Eucalyptus eudesmioides and it was not until more field surveys were carried out that it was given its present name in 1936.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 15:08

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 15:08
Hi Stephen,

Thanks for another informative post and wonderful photos of those beautiful trees.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 15:33

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 15:33
Hi Val
The thanks should go to you for starting this off. We now need more members to add further posts to keep this going.

Cheers

Stephen
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 16:04

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 16:04
Here you go Stephen a few of mine from the Great Victoria Desert:

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Follow Up By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 16:05

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 16:05
Missed one, press send before I'd finished.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 17:44

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 17:44
Hi Dunc
You lucky buggers over there in the West, they are there right in your backyard.
They are a brilliant desert tree and the extra photos that you have posted fill in the extra details that I did not have.

Val needs members that travel our great Nation to keep this project going and photos like yours are what she is after to add further dimensions to these stories.

Greatly appreciated for adding your great pictures.


Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 18:20

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 18:20
Gidday

Don't want to be picky Dunc but i think those flowers are eucalyptus youngiana, another desert tree. my books have e gongylocarpa with quite small white flowers. I am aslo very familiar with e youingiana as I have seen it flowering at Neale Junction and I also have one growing and flowering in my garden in suburban Perth, except mine is a spectacular pink. It just shows what a remarkable speciies the eucalypts are that they can adapt in horticulture to far different conditions than their natural habitat. I have managed to grow several desert gums in Perth, even getting some to flower in pots.

Cheers

Rocco

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Reply By: Member - Marc Luther B (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 16:38

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 16:38
Hi Stephen

Great photos and beautiful landscape as well, just like home here. Now I understand the oval shaped scars on the trees around here, as the people still make coolamons around here.

How is it that a tree can be chopped into like that and stil survive ?

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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 16:50

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 16:50
Hi Marc,

To kill a tree by removing bark ,the bark has to be cut and/or removed all the way around the trunk. This practice is called ringbarking and in days gone by was one of the most common methods of clearing land where there were a lot of trees to deal with. The trees would die and were then either left as skeletons or pushed over and possibly burnt. But sometimes ringbarked trees would sucker from the base of the trunk and start growing again, undoing a lot of hard work.

A tree can survive having a piece of bark removed because the lower layers of the bark and the sap wood are made up of tissue that conducts water and food along the trunk. Unless all of that tissue is cut, the intact bits will allow the tree to continue functioning.

Hope that makes sense!

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 17:52

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 17:52
Hi Marc
You must have some special vegetation where you live and perhaps you could get in contact with Val and also do a story.

As for the landscape, I think that the deserts in Australia are such a very special place and to me they are far from boring. My only regret is that we only get to see them when we take annual leave. You are very lucky for living in country like this.

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Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Marc Luther B (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:11

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:11
Hi Val

Thank you so very much for that explanation. You have just made a good day great, as I learned something new. Thankyou

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Follow Up By: Member - Marc Luther B (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:13

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:13
Hi Stephen L

I have a good camera, but I would not even pretend to take the photos of the quality that are getting posted here.

It would be nice to get out and take photo's at the moment, only problem being mud, mud and more mud. We have copped some shocking rain in the last couple of days.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:39

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:39
Hi Marc
Just take the photos and you will be surprised what you can do if you put your mind to it. You have great country up your way and viewers on the forum would like to see what beauty you have up your way.


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Stephen
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Reply By: Member - Phil B (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 17:53

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 17:53
Hi Stephen and Duncan,

Thanks for the fantastic photos you guys have posted.

Isn't the desert an amazing place, no huge Sahara like dunes over here thankfully.

One thing that I marvel at is the size of trees like the marble gums, growing in whats considered desert with such low rainfall and nutrients. Nature sure has adapted in a magnificent way and given us these fantastic trees.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 18:55

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 18:55
Hi Phil
Our deserts sure are an amazing place and the flora and fauna that grows in them is very unique indeed and we sure are the very lucky country.

Yes the Marble Gum is a majestic tree and like you marvel at how they always seem to look very health in such a very special desert.

Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Joe F (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 19:03

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 19:03
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Snappy Gum ~ Eucalyptus leucoploia

G'day everyone

Nice post Stephen L ~ it is an amaizing thing to see a beautiful tree living in a fairly hostile environment and as Phil B quite rightly says, thank you all for your fantastic images.
I trust my images stir some distant memories you may have of the Pilbara.

A Safe and peaceful Christmas to you all.

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil B (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 19:25

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 19:25
Hi Joe,

Aren't those Snappy Gums tough critters growing seemingly happily in the most impossible places.

With smooth white bark sharply contracting against that Pilbara red - how can one not be impressed.

I don't think anyone can dispute we live a a lucky country! Its just magic.

Of course (with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek) we mustn't expose too much of it to those from the eastern seaboard or they'll come over here in droves to see what we've got. Your excepted of course Steve, you almost live in WA now - lol.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 19:56

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 19:56
Hi Joe
Thanks for those great pictures and sharing with us all on the forum. Have you thought of doing a post on them, is so please get in contact with Val.

Hi Phil
Yes I have made no secret of it here on the forum that my favourite deserts are in WA and they are indeed such a very special place.

To you both, all the Best for the Festive Season.


Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Joe F (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 21:12

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 21:12
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G'day Phil and Stephen

Not much can actually be said about the Snappy Gum tree ~ mostly because one is usually lost for words ~ simply beautiful just about sums up the tree and the Pilbara, one can't help but feel totally humbled by just being in the Pilbara at certain times of the day, I think most people get that feeling when the place and moment is truely special.Image Could Not Be Found
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:32

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:32
Hi Joe
I think that you should contact Val for a story. The photos that you have supplies are worthy of a story on Eucalyptus leucophloia and its cousin, Eucalyptus brevifolia, both known as the Snappy Gum that grows across 2 States and one Territory of northern Australia.

It looks a very magnificent tree and a story on this would be great to add to Val's Blog.

They are great pictures and thanks for showing them for us all to see.



Cheers

Stephen
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 20:15

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 20:15
One of my favourite arid region tree, not a Marble Gum, but the Mini Richie
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 20:34

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 20:34
Hi Duncan
That red curling bark is always unusual and interesting. Perhaps you could do a story for Val as well?

Cheers

Stephen

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Reply By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 21:20

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 21:20
Fallen branches also make great firewood - fantastic tree.

Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:36

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at 22:36
Hi John
Yes they are a great tree indeed.


Cheers

Stephen
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Reply By: Fred G NSW - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 02:25

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 02:25
Who can identify these for me. I am not that knowledgable on tree species names, but found these quite magnificent when we saw them.

I assumed what I thought was a Desert Oak is just that. The big eucalyptus stands on the Murray River at the Hume Weir were sensational. They had a very smooth pink bark, which was further accentuated at sunset and sunrise.

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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 02:36

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 02:36
Here are a few more From the Hume Weir.Image Could Not Be FoundImage Could Not Be FoundImage Could Not Be Found

They attracted hundreds of white cockatoos each morning and evening.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 08:07

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 08:07
Hi Fred,

Im pretty sure that the tree you have called a desert oak is a form of mulga. Mulgas belong in the Acacia or wattle family. Desert oaks are in the Casuarina family. Hopefully we'll get to both of those in future threads so watch this space.

The gum trees are more difficult. They appear to have been planted so at a guess they MIGHT be either sugar gums (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) or Lemon Scented Gum (Eucalyptus citriodora) both of which have been planted extensively throughout Viv and SA. But I could be wrong too!!!!

To identify a gum tree - there are several hundred species - you have to look at the details of the buds, flowers, and gumnuts, as well as the leaves and bark, the size and shape of the tree and where it is growing naturally. Its a tricky business, but satisfying when you do occasionally manage to identify one correctly. Stephen's tree this week is one that I haven't actually seen yet so its great to see something really new (for me anyway) on here.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 10:31

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 10:31
Hi Fred
The graceful tree in the Woomera area is one of the Mulga family. In that area, they are the dominant tall tree usually found in blue bush country, the same as these photos taken on Coondambo Station, south east of Glendambo.

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The Desert Oak - Allocasuarina decaisneana is found from the top north western part of South Australia, the Northern Territory and the desert of WA. It is a very hard wood and was used by Aboriginals for weapons and also by Len Beadell as marker posts. Here are a few pictures of this majestic desert tree.

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I hope this helps you out.

Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 10:56

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 10:56
Thanks Stephen, and Val. This is a fairly big tree, and provided us with a great camp site, well off the highway. As always, love browsing your photos.

Fred
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Reply By: Richard W (NSW) - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 05:51

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 05:51
Thanks for sharing the info and images.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 10:35

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 10:35
Hi Richard
Val welcomes input from anyone that has a story to tell. You must surely have some that you could share with us all.

Have a Great Christmas and a very Happy New Year.


Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Richard W (NSW) - Monday, Dec 13, 2010 at 08:06

Monday, Dec 13, 2010 at 08:06
Stephen,

Thanks for the seasons greetings and the same to you.

Many of my stories are embedded in my blogs but you can never do them justice and keep a journal to a reasonable length.

Probably the most interesting story was a trip along the Munja Track out of Mount Elizabeth on the GRR in the Kimberley. This is a 400km return trip out to Walcott Inlet on the NW coast of WA.

Our group had been travelling all day and it was late afternoon. We negotiated the very rough Magpie Jump up and came across fellow travellers Peter and Denise in their Patrol ute towing a camper resting at a nasty angle in a huge wash away at the bottom of the jump up. They had disengaged the camper and had been unsuccessful in extracting themselves from their predicament and were resigned to spending the night on the side of the track until we turned up.

With directions from one of our group, Steve, I was able to snatch Peter out with a couple of pulls and he only had a couple of dents down the side of his vehicle.

Peter told us they were friends of the camp hosts at Bachsten Camp and were carrying urgent supplies of a dozen bottles of champagne. These were still intact much to their relief.

We all camped at Turkey Creek that night.

In August this year I was at the Comet gold mine at Marble Bar and a fellow came up to me and asked if I remembered him. He had recognised my vehicle. It was Peter and we had a chat about that event 2 years before.

It's a very small world.




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Reply By: Member - Ray (QLD) - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 13:50

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 13:50
Thanks to the great advice and help from Stephen L of (Claire SA) in the planning of our trip, I was able to take a great number of photos during a trip earlier in the year down the Birdsville Track.

Don't worry about the date on the photos, still working that out on the camera.

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Cheers

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 14:08

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 14:08
Hi Ray
Great pictures and good to hear that you had a great trip.

Cheers

Stephen
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Reply By: Sigmund - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 16:42

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 16:42
Beautiful pics; thanks all.

As a woodturner I have a keen interest in the ID and turning qualities of our many native timbers.

Common names vary a lot and that makes it hard to get a good ID.

We have maybe 800 species of Eucalypts and they can interbreed. Acacias, numbers are out of sight.

The authoritative field guide to Eu's runs to three thick hardback volumes.

Last trip we came back with a short Mulga log; all we could fit.

Mulga, Gidgee, Dead Finish: superb timbers but talk about hard!
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 23:36

Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 23:36
Hi Sigmund
Yes indeed we some very nice timbers and some are very unique to work with.

They claim that when the Desert Oak and Waddy have dried, the timber is that hard that you can not ever put a nail in it, I do not how true this is.

Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Monday, Dec 13, 2010 at 06:24

Monday, Dec 13, 2010 at 06:24
Certainly the denser the timber the harder it is to fix. You might get a nail started but it'll split the timber.

Gidgee BTW can come in at 1200kgs per cube when dry.
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Reply By: Richard W (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 06:05

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 06:05
Not much good on species of gums however hunted down a few of mine from this year.

Stressed gums in the Gammon Ranges near Grindells Hut:




North Pool - CSR:


Biella Spring - CSR


Stretch Lagoon, Bililuna, CSR


Cazneaux Tree, Flinders Ranges



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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 08:12

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 08:12
Hi Richard
Fantastic pictures. Not letting the cat out of the bag, but you will be able to use some of those in Val's new post this week.

Keep an eye out for when she post it.


Cheers

Stephen
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