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Southern “Jarrah forest” floor, early Spring.

Q: Why the inverted commas?

A: Because – even before you consider the diverse delights of its “floor” – “Jarrah forest” is a misnomer. Generally, its “skyline” co-stars two big tree species – Jarrah and Marri

Eucalyptus marginata (Jarrah) is a very slow-growing tree; by definition, if you are looking at a really big Jarrah, it was already growing before European eyes first saw it.

Its timber is one of the world’s most beautiful and durable hardwoods.

You’ll find that timber all over the world – in furniture, fences, wharves, railway sleepers, even streets and road surfaces – but the relevant trees grow/grew only in relatively wet parts of southwestern Australia.

European colonisers only began to harvest Jarrah in 1829; then, the so-called “jarrah forest” included many huge trees.

Now, almost all of those “king” trees are gone, only an infinitesimal amount of “virgin” forest still stands, and – as will be explained further in a future post – the remaining “kings” will be the last of their kind.

So-called “Jarrah forest” is almost always in fact really Jarrah-Marri forest.

Corymbia calophylla – formerly Eucalyptus calophylla – is an equally magnificent tree, but the Marri (aka “WA red gum”) has less “useful” timber, so foresters/millers used to dismiss it as a “rubbish” tree.

The individual’s age and the conditions in which it grows determine whether a Jarrah or Marri is a very grand, tall tree or a scraggy small one.

The cooler, wetter, southern “jarrah forest” has the grander trees; a future post will “look up” at some.

This one looks down, to the southern forest’s floor.

Charred jarrah trunk & forest floor. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Charred jarrah trunk & forest floor, with Hibbertia in bloom. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

 

All photos in this post were taken on a single early September day in 2016, when my beloved and I walked in forest just north of Mumballup – a short drive away from Collie, the Ferguson Valley, Donnybrook, Bunbury or Balingup.

Pink Lady orchids, Mumballup State Forest, September 2016
Pink fairy orchids, Mumballup State Forest, September 2016

 

Caladenia latifolia – Pink Fairy orchids – were abundant.

Less abundant, but also easy to find, were lovely examples of Cyanicula – blue orchids. I think these are both Cyanicula sericea – Silky Blue Orchid.

Silky blue orchid, early Sept 2016, near Mumballup. All photos copyright Doug Spencer
Silky blue orchid, early Sept 2016, near Mumballup. All photos copyright Doug Spencer

 

Silky blue orchid, early September 2016, near Mumballup.
Silky blue orchid, early September 2016, near Mumballup.

 

Not everything lovely on the forest floor is a flower.

Mosses, mostly...on a decaying, abandoned termite mound.
Mosses, mostly…on a decaying, abandoned termite mound.

 

Where old tree's trunk meets forest floor, early September 2016
Where old tree’s trunk meets forest floor, early September 2016

 

And even a lovely flower is much the lovelier for the context in which it grows.

Pink Lady orchids, lichen, fallen leaves. All photos copyright Doug Spencer
Pink Fairy orchids, lichen, fallen leaves. All photos copyright Doug Spencer

 

Sundew, early September 2016, near Mumballup.
Sundew, early September 2016, near Mumballup.

 

Members of the carnivorous genus Droserasundews – are so abundant in the forests and bush of southwest WA that many people don’t even notice how exquisite they are.

Sundew flowers, Sept 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Sundew flowers, Sept 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

Published in nature and travel photographs Western Australia

One Comment

  1. Sherry Thomas Sherry Thomas

    Lovely photos

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