Saturday, July 04, 2009

No, mate, it's Australian!

I was in the flower market in Amsterdam once, with my sister. As we were admiring the bunches of picked flowers in buckets, one of us exclaimed, Look! Morrison!'

We turned to say to the flowerseller,
"This is a flower native to the place where we grew up!"

And she said, "Oh, you're from Israel?"

Sheesh.
































I have walked in Italy and the south of France, in Greece and Turkey, in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, and in each one of those places I have had the locals point out their lovely native trees -- Eucalyptus every one.


I have heard Californians wax lyrical over their lovely Californian trees. Yep, Eucalypts.

Last night we had dinner with an old friend, a Brazilian nuclear scientist. We were talking of trees and native fruits, and he said he looked forward to showing me the wonderful Eucalyptus groves of Brazil. "They are our native trees," says he. "Very beautiful..."

Listen folk. Let's get this straight for once and for all.

Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia (which has over 700 species)
and a few islands of South-East Asia
(which have 15 species, 8 of which are also found in Australia).

AND NOWHERE ELSE.
Ok?

You may grow them, but you pinched them from downunder first!

And Morrison (Verticordia) is also Australian. In fact I seem to remember reading somewhere that Western Australia had more wildflower species than the rest of the world put together. I have no idea if that extravagant claim is true or what their definition of wildflower was anyway, but I do know that when we were feral kids scampering around the range at the back of our place in spring, the morrison was just one in masses and masses of gloriously absurd and wonderful flowering plants.

If you haven't seem the West Australian woodlands in spring, you have missed one of the world's great experiences.

See here for a tiny taste. And note that Verticordia. The top lefthand pix on this page is also Verticordia. The trees are all species of Eucalyptus. The topmost are called blackbutt...three guesses why. All photos were taken in my home state, Western Australia.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

My favourite Eucalyptus trees are snow gums, ghost gums, large old river red gums and tall majestic mountain ash. Scribbly barks are rather interesting too.

The Israelis got a head start cultivating native Australian flowers for the cut flower markets. Australia is only just catching up.

Smathi

Jo said...

I have never heard anyone claim eucalyptus as their own - to me it is symbolic of Australia, Eucalyptus and Koalas (or as they have been described to me, by an Aussie, pissy little animals).

Imagine me said...

It's funny how little people know about what is native and what isn't.
A few years ago here in Perth there was a mass poisoning of birds. Some undesirable had put out poisoned grain and a lot of introduced turtle and laughing doves were killed along with galahs and other natives. It was covered in all the media and one television channel interviewed a very upset woman, her hands full of dead doves. She was saying how terrible it was that all these lovely native doves had been killed. No-one seemed to notice the mistake.

Deb said...

I remember being on a tourist boat ride in Kakadu when we lived there. A tourist commented on all the wild horses. The National Parks guide made it very clear that there are actually no 'wild' horses in Australia, they are all feral horses.

Glenda Larke said...

Ah, Smathi, you are making me homesick.

Deb, that's a good point. We use the terms without thinking them through.

It's like the way I have to forget talking about "the bush" and refer to Australian not-quite-forest as "woodland" instead. My sister is President of the W.A. Naturalists Club, so I get scolded otherwise...