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Snow gums

October 20, 2009

Give me a home among the gum trees (from song by W. Johnson and B. Brown)

Every Australian should have a gum in their yard somewhere! Pretty well every home I’ve lived in, and I’ve lived in a few, has had one in the yard or in the street just outside. My current home, in which we’ve lived for 12 years, has a lovely Snow Gum or Eucalyptus Pauciflora, and here it is:

Eucalyptus Pauciflora

Eucalyptus Pauciflora

Pauciflora means “few (or poor) flowers” and I suppose that’s true. Our tree does produce flowers in season – creamy white ones – but, while you can see them, they don’t jump out at you, partly I suppose because of their muted colour and the height of the tree. According to the article at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, another name they go by is Weeping Gum. I think you can see why when you look at ours. It has quite a lovely drooping habit (and would have had more if I’d been able to stop Mr Gums having a go at it last year!)

But, the thing they are most famous for is their wonderfully coloured bark, particularly on the subspecies (at least I think it’s a subspecies) that grows in Australia’s (admittedly not very high) alpine regions. These alpine ones can also be stunted, often into quite amazing shapes. As a result, if you search for “snow gums” on the internet you will find many gorgeous photos (both amateur and professional). I may as well add to them: it was taken on the Dead Horse Gap Walk in Kosciusko National Park in the Snowy Mountains. Judging by the little off-trail detour path to it, I’m not the only one to have photographed it:

Snow Gum trunk

Snow Gum trunk

This trunk, after rain, would be wearing a more intense technicolour coat of creams, browns, olives, and greys. And, just to bring this back to books, think of these (and other) gums when you read my next review (coming soon) – A.B. (Banjo) Paterson’s The man from snowy river and other verses.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2009 19:13

    I suspect that for most newcomers to Australia, it’s the gums that seem oddest of all. I came here from the UK via Africa, and I can remember being astonished by the way these strange trees grew. Now when I travel I find myself thinking that northern hemisphere trees are rather dull, because of their regular habits and straightforward ways!

    • whisperinggums permalink*
      October 21, 2009 20:16

      LOL Lisa…I think it’s really only after travelling and living overseas myself that I’ve come to truly appreciate their importance to me and my sense of place and landscape. I have always loved them but took them for granted really whereas now I actively look for them and I do find them endlessly fascinating. That said there are some lovely northern hemisphere trees too aren’t there? Those huge old spreading oaks, for example, are amazing …

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