Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leopardwood - could this be my totem?

I have just returned from another teaching trip out west - to Nyngan this time.  It was great to get out into western NSW and the warm weather compared to Orange was really enjoyed - I felt like a basking lizard.

A highlight of the trip that I would like to share with you is seeing Leopardwood again.  As a family we have been out to western NSW and southern Queensland a couple times over the last few years and have been introduced to Leopardwood - I had heard about them but had not seen them until these trips.

Leopardwood is an example of a species that has adapted from it's once widespread rainforest ancestors to now survive as isolated trees in hot dry climates with less than 250mm of rain a year, and has adapted to survive wildfire.  A far cry from living in rainforests of dense vegetation with high rainfall and no fire.  They are a member of the Rutaceae family - that's the plant family with oranges, lemons, boronias and correas to name a few.

It has a couple of features that make it one of my favourite trees.....

It's bark patterns which are apparently reflected in the grain of the wood also...

When it is young it is a prickly rounded shrub - probably to deter grazing by animals such as the Diprotodon or Giant Wombat the kids hypothesise... and then the tree grows up out of the protection of this dense prickly base - it is hard to believe that they are the some tree until you piece it all together. 

In the picture below you can see the prickly shrub at the bottom and the young tree growing up out of the middle.

In the photo below you can see the prickly foliage and branches still attached to the lower trunk of a taller tree....

Leopardwood trees scattered through an arid open woodland in western NSW

As part of my permaculture course I have been asked to consider what my 'totem' might be - does it have to be an animal?  Can I have a couple? Maybe the Leopardwood could be one of my totems?

1 comment:

  1. I think it would be a lovely totem :-)

    That bark is gorgeous.

    The warmer weather would have been lovely. I'm freezing!