Gums have blossoms too

Red flowering gum blossom, “Wild fire”

I thought it was time to show that Gums can have gorgeous flowers as well as interesting bark. Not all gums have dramatic flowers. The one in my garden doesn’t, for example – as is clear from its name: Eucalyptus pauciflora! But some gums, like this hybrid of the Eucalyptus maculata (obviously!) do.

Gum blossoms have a very special place in Australian literature, through the work of author-illustrator, May Gibbs. Her most famous book is Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (1918). However, she produced her first Gumnut booklets in 1916, and through them created the characters she soon after became famous for, including her Gumnut Babies and Gumblossom Babies.

There was a strong conservation message behind her books. On the first page of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie is:

Humans please be kind to all Bush Creatures and don’t pull flowers up by the roots.

And that’s about all I’ll say about May Gibbs … she’s an Australian icon but in fact she was not part of my childhood. I read very few of the traditional anthropomorphic (can plants be anthropomorphic?) children’s books when I was growing up. I much preferred reality to fantasy, then, and pretty much now too.  So, I’ll just share this image that grabbed my attention on a trip to the coast earlier this year – and suggest that it’s no surprise really that such beautiful things inspired writers like Gibbs.

(This was an experiment posting directly from flickr, but I don’t think I’ll do it that way again)

16 thoughts on “Gums have blossoms too

  1. Don’t worry; I read enough May Gibbs for the both of us. I even refer to that new skirt from Paris as my Ragged Blossom skirt 🙂 Perhaps you should have worked harder to steer your child away from fantasy books?

  2. Lovely photo of gum blossoms. Did you take it Sue??
    I have noted that often gums that grow in other countries, California (almost a country!) and Peru, being 2 examples, often look more splendid than those in Australia. However they don’t often grow as old, as they are harvested for timber…

  3. What an absolutely gorgeous blossom Sue!

    My Dad gave me a lovely little figurine of the Gumnut babes and a beautiful two volume book of May Gibbs’ work.

    As a child I adored the whole anthropomorphic book thing, but growing up in New Guinea didn’t provide a lot of book opportunities so I only met Gibbs’ work as an adult.

  4. Kate: Thanks for commenting! Yes, it was on the Prince’s Highway in Mogo. I wasn’t the only one photographing it! I was happy with what I got out of my little camera. We saw some beautiful red flowering gums in California. We also saw some terribly pruned gums there too! Who prunes gums?

    Steph: That figurine sounds lovely. I think I was an odd child when it came to reading! Fantasy is good for you I reckon!

    • Thanks Stefanie. I suddenly thought that that could be the case because the focus often is on the bark. My gum produces small white flowers that don’t really stand out but a few do produce gorgeous bright blossoms.

  5. Clever to include a photo from flickr. Its easier with some systems than others! What an exotic plant is is. Our cordyline is flowering this year for the first time ever

    • Thanks Tom. I set it up to be embedded to left of text but when it did that I didn’t like the way the caption from flickr worked. When I tried to change that I lost the embedding. I could work it out I’m sure but don’t have the energy. But the main thing is I would like it to have sent it to WordPress as a draft that I could continue to work on but that didn’t seem to be an option. It seemed that the only action from the flickr end was to publish and I didn’t like that because it doesn’t have all the nice tools that WordPress has. Oh, and congrats on the Cordyline.

  6. I love the photo — and have loved all the many gum flowers I’ve seen.

    I am curious. On my own blog, my single post on eucalypts in general and ghost gums in particular gets a stunning number of hits — probably 20 percent of all visits to the blog, out of more than 220 posts total. Do you find the same sort of pattern — huge numbers of hits on your gum tree entries? I’m just curious.


    • Thanks WA! I have written a handful of posts featuring gums now and they do get a goodly number of hits. If you exclude Home page and Who am I hits, my “Time for another gum” post is 6th highest (representing just over 7% of my hits) and “The magnificent River Red Gums” 20th highest out of a total of 214 posts. So, a goodly number for what is primarily a litblog but not as much as yours! Interesting eh?

      • For me, the post titled Ghost Gum (posted in May 2007) has been the number 1 post since it went up. Water Buffalo is number 2 —though a somewhat distant second. It is a rare day when Ghost Gum (which actually discusses gums in general) doesn’t have at least twice as many hits as the next most popular item. (I’d think by now almost everyone would have read it!)

        Amusingly, with Water Buffalo, I can always tell when some school has issued a homework assignment, since WordPress shows search terms, and there will suddenly be 25 searches for “When were water buffalo introduced into Australia?” I’ve actually noted that a couple of Aussie schools have links to my site — which, as you can imagine, delights me endlessly. I write textbooks in the US, but with kids in Australia accessing my blog, I’m educating kids on two continents now! Good fun, that.

  7. It’s fascinating, really, what catches people. My top post by far is one titles “Challenge of the biopic” which focuses particularly on the Coco avant Chanel movie. It got no hits for a couple of months after posting and then took off. I think many people are just looking for the photo! One common search term is “Coco Chanel foto” (so I know that many of them are coming from Europe). And you’d be amazed at the variety of spellings of her name that get to me. The search engines do a wonderful match. I’d love to know how many actually read the post.

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