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Autumn morning in Perth’s Bold Park

Stand atop its higher hills/dunes and you see that suburbia surrounds this bush “island”.  Down in its “valleys”, however, your eyes certainly don’t tell you that Bold Park is within an urban area of more than two million people, and that the CBD is only minutes away.

Tuart, Bold Park, Perth. Copyright Doug Spencer
Tuart, Bold Park, Perth. Copyright Doug Spencer

This tree is probably some hundreds of years old.

Eucalyptus gomphocephela – the Tuart – dominates much of the park’s  “skyline”, but is just one of Bold Park’s more than three hundred native plant species

The Swan Coastal Plain‘s largest trees, Tuarts are endemic to a small portion of this long, thin plain.

That plain is just a small portion of Australia’s Southwestern “corner”.

Western Australia is huge – much bigger than Texas.

Its Southwest is only a small portion of Australia’s geographically largest State.

Within this “small portion” grow more species of flowering plant than in all of Western Europe; many grow nowhere else.

A lot of them are in trouble, but few are in more serous trouble than the Tuart.

Key factors in their decline – often, working together – are urban sprawl, clearing for agriculture, fungus-borne “dieback”, a rapidly-drying climate, and a rise in fires’ frequency and intensity.

Many of Bold Park’s strikingly beautiful, also-endemic plants are Proteaceae – more specifically, Banksias.

Firewood Banksia, Bold Park. All photos copyright Doug Spencer
Banksia, Bold Park. All photos copyright Doug Spencer

 

Q: how to annoy patriotic South African plant enthusiasts?

A: cheerfully remind them that Australia is home to a larger number of the protea family’s circa 1600 species.

All but one of the 170 Banksia species are endemic to Australia.

More than 90% of them grow naturally only in WA’s southwest.

Anyone who pays attention will find Banksias astonishing.

The better one knows them, the more one’s astonishment and appreciation grows.

This post’s final photo shows just a few of the many phases in the life of a Banksia “spike”.

(there are 5 spikes in foreground of this morning’s photo, of  Banksia menziesii – Firewood Banksia)

In bloom, a single, “average” spike on a Firewood Banksia has more than 1,000 individual flowers!

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Not surprisingly, WA is home to some of the world’s leading botanical artists and illustrators.

Philippa Nikulinsky has devoted an entire book to Firewood Banksia.

Click here to see and hear more…the item’s audio component is  a conversation I had with Philippa in 2014.

Published in nature and travel photographs Western Australia

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