Here come some gums

Actually, the terms “gum tree” and “eucalypt” are more complex than many of us, I think, realise. The trees I have habitually called Gums or Eucalypts actually come from three genera: Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophera. I was quite shocked when I discovered a few years ago that in the 1990s there had been a reclassification of Eucalypts, with about 113 species being moved to the Corymbia genus. Apparently the Angophera had already existed. I just wasn’t aware that they too were what I called gums. They all belong to the Myrtle family. Perhaps it would be easier to just call them that? Whispering Myrtles anyone?

Anyhow, while Central Australia is not the place where gums are the most prolific, you do find some wonderful specimens there. One of the most famous is the Ghost Gum (which is actually a Corymbia aparrerinja). It can grow in the most amazing places, seeming often to prefer exposed rock faces.

Ghost Gum against the red rocks of Palm Valley

Ghost Gum against the red rocks of Palm Valley

And here’s one, in a really precarious spot…

Ghost Gum on a cliff edge in Palm Valley

Ghost Gum on a cliff edge in Palm Valley

One of the other common gums in the area is the River Red Gum (which is really a eucalyptus – the Eucalyptus Camaldulensis). It is found in many parts of Australia, including Central Australia, and mostly grows in or by water courses. A useful marker in the Centre!

River Red Gum trunk at Jessie Gap

River Red Gum trunk at Jessie Gap

These are the gums that are sometimes called “widow makers” for their habit of suddenly dropping large boughs – apparently a protective mechanism against drought. We walked under this one – though this is only half the bough that is about to fall off. Still it looked dramatic.

Looking up at a River Red Gum in Serpentine Gorge

Looking up at a River Red Gum in Serpentine Gorge

I took many more photos but will save more for another post! But, aren’t they beautiful?

6 thoughts on “Here come some gums

  1. In deference to the lyricist whence came your blog name I suggest you to stick to Whisperinggums – Whispering Myrtles just doesn’t have the same ring.

    • Good point waltzingaustralia (did I call you waltzing matilda before??). There seems to be a consensus here! I’ll stick with “gums”!

  2. I think it is very good that you really understand the science behind your blog name! Well, there’s a lot there I didn’t know about before I read your post. We have no trees like that in Europe as far as I know.

    This time we are taking our caravan in England. In September we are going to France – God willing!

    Watch this space for photographs in due course – – –

  3. LOL Tom … there might as well be some science I understand! Anyhow, they are amazing trees – one day I’ll post photos of some paperbarks and spotted gums.

    Thanks for the link to your photo site. I will check in soon.

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