Dec
03
2013

Our plant life: A horticulturist’s delight

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Tasmania's lush natural landscape lends itself to all sorts of magnificent plant life, including many rare and native species.

Before you venture to this island, familiarise yourself with the kinds of plants you're going to come across, so you don't unknowingly walk past something extremely fascinating and miss taking a closer look!

Here are a few tips on what to look out for when you're in Tasmania.

Huon Pine

Huon pine trees are native to Tasmania and are quite impressive. They are one of the slowest-growing and longest-living plants in the world and can even live for over 3,000 years.

Huon pine was used for the construction of ships from around 1820. Pines were felled on the Franklin and Gordon rivers and floated downstream, but this eventually came to an end when the trees were deemed protected.

However, pine that has fallen is still allowed to be used and so it still finds its way into Tasmanian woodwork.

Look out for this tree if you're travelling in Western Tasmania, near Strahan. Head to the Huon Valley for a pine walk at Tahune, or venture to the Teepookana Forest Reserve, Heritage Landing on the Gordon River or Newall Creek to see these giants in the flesh.

Extra fun fact: Huon pine dates back to the former Gondwanaland super-continent, which was made up of Antarctica, South America, India, Australia and New Zealand before it broke apart. That means this tree existed up to multiple tens of thousands of years ago!

King's Lomatia

This is another relic from the Gondwanaland period and as all of the king's lomatia plants today are genetically identical, it's thought to be the oldest 'plant clone' known on earth, with a 43,000 year old history!

Currently, the plant is extremely endangered, with around 500 plants only found in two areas of the island's south-west.

According to the government's Department of the Environment, the plant is tall and distinctive. While usually it is 2 to 4 metres in height, it can be as tall as 8 metres. Thin, spindly and with crimson flowers, it's a plant to treasure.

As this unique plant's existence is extremely fragile, its location is protected.

Myrtle

Once again, the Gondwanaland continent has provided Tasmania with another great tree. These can live to over 500 years old and grow to great heights of 50 metres.

You'll see myrtle trees all through the Tasmanian rainforest, but most often in western Tasmania because they thrive in rainy and humid conditions.

For one of the best looks at the distinctive myrtle tree, head on the Enchanted Walk at Cradle Mountain, or give the Russell Falls in Mount Field National Park a visit.

You'll know it when you see them with solid chocolate brown hues and often a vibrant green, mossy coating.

Pandani

This is another plant native to Tasmania. Its green, spiky leaves are certainly distinctive and you can be sure to run into some in the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. They thrive in sub-alpine conditions, with leaves providing the trunks plenty of insulation from the conditions.

Now all that's left for you to do is head off to Tasmania and see these plant species – and more! – for yourself.

Head to some of Tasmania's National Parks and other wildlife hot-spots and see how many unique species of plant life you can find. This will help to liven up your hikes and if you're walking with companions, can even turn into a bit of a healthy plant spotting competition. Enjoy!

Huon Pine walk at Tahune AirWalk, Tasmania, Australia.

pine-valley-tasmania-myrtle-pandani-forest - image credit: Luke O'Brien

Distinctive grain and colour of Huon Pine -  image credit: buytasmaniantimbersonline-dot-com-au

Enchanted Forest Walk Cradle Mountain - image credit: Eriksfjord blog

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