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First Cuttings

Exploring the Flinders Ranges

In this issue Horst Weber, our German correspondent (based in Ireland and with a passion for the Australian outback) returns. Regular readers would have first met Horst in issue number 7 when he reported on the Quandong trees (Santalum acuminatum) that he met on a visit to Arkaroola in the northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia. Well, Horst was back at Arkaroola late in 1997 and, in this issue he tells us about the plants along the Acacia Ridge trail.

By coincidence, I have just returned from Arkaroola. In fact these notes are being written at Wallaby Cottage in the Arkaroola village (aren't portable computers just great!). It's been very dry in the northern Flinders for a number of years so the floral display is not as good as I remember from my 1989 visit. But there's plenty to see if you go looking and my camera gear has been given a solid workout.

From my point of view the important thing is that I'm seeing and photographing flora which is different to what I'm used to along the east coast. It doesn't really matter if the Eremophila alternifolia bushes have only a few flowers...at least I am seeing them in their natural habitat.

If you get a chance to come to Arkaroola, don't hesitate. Apart from the flora and fauna, the colours of the cliffs late in the day are magic and the dark skies will reveal stars that you never imagined existed.

The Value of a Tree

The following extract came from a northern hemisphere source via the newsletter of the Burrendong Arboretum, in central west New South Wales. I don't know how authoritative the extract is, but it provides food for thought....

Tree Drawing

A mature, healthy tree with a 14 metre diameter crown has a total foliage area of around 1,800 square metres. This tree will filter out around one tonne of dust annually, thus absorbing bacteria, soot, etc. For instance, the amount of dust and soot in the air of a heavily trafficked street has been measured at around 15,000 particles per litre, while in parks there are only 2,000 particles.

Around 50,000 cubic litres of air pass through the tree daily. The tree makes use of the carbon dioxide while breaking down the sulphur dioxide. In a single growth season, one tree will produce enough clean air to meet one person's annual needs. The same tree can reduce wind speeds by up to 50%. On a warm summer's day, humidity under the canopy will increase by 2% and the temperature will decrease by at least 2 degrees.

The foliage surface area of a newly planted tree is about 1 square metre. A large and beautiful tree is virtually irreplaceable. It will take about 100 years before a new tree achieves the same as one we can chop down in a few minutes. Make sure you plant a new tree in time.

An Australian First....but no Gold Medal!

From the ChemWatch Bulletin Board.....

Australia may have recorded the first weed developing a resistance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. While previous cases of resistance have proved to result from inadequate dosing, the Echuca ryegrass survived almost 5 times the recommended dose. ChemWatch predicts the sample is unlikely to survive the attention of all the researchers rushing to test the material to determine how it survived.

From "Blandfordia", the newsletter of SGAP's North Shore Group

SGAP 20th Biennial Conference and Seminar

Every 2 years the Society for Growing Australian Plants holds holds a Conference which allows the various Regional Groups to consider and determine policy matters. Combined with the conference is a Seminar which lasts for 5 days and which combines formal lectures on a range of topics with field trips.

In 1999 the Conference and Seminar will be held in Brisbane and will be hosted by the Queensland Region of SGAP from 10 July to 16 July. The venue will be the University of Queensland. Features of the Programme include:

  • Pre-Conference tour to either:
    • The Darling Downs, visiting Kholo Gardens, Cunningham's Gap, Myall Park, Barakula State Forest and Bunya Mountains, or
    • Fraser Island, visiting rainforest, wallum, coastal dunes and perched lakes

  • Formal Lectures, including:
    • Cultivation of tropical rainforest plants
    • Australian native ferns in cultivation
    • Food plants
    • Geology and flora of coastal plains
    • The wallum - Beerwah through the seasons
    • Sandstone areas of Queensland
    • Wild places of North Queensland
    • Semi-arid areas of Queensland
    • Ex-situ rare and endangered native plant collections
    • 230 years since Sir Joseph Banks
    • Mountain heath
    • Recovery plans for rare and threatened species
    • Australian plants in the cut-flower trade
    • Cultural methods in horticulture
    • Water features in gardens - philosophy and planting
    • ....plus many more

  • Two full day field trips:
    • Wallum areas and mangroves north of Brisbane
    • Mt Glorious and Samford sub-tropical rainforest and native gardens

  • Post-Conference tour to either:
    • Gold Coast hinterland and Lamington visiting Pine Ridge Environmental Park, Burleigh Heads National Park, mangrove areas, Fleay’s Fauna Reserve, Springbrook National Park and Binna Burra.
    • North Queensland, Cairns district and Atherton Tableland visiting tropical lowland rainforests, cool misty upland rainforests, crater lakes, fern gullies, palm groves, open eucalypt woodlands with a variety of tropical grevilleas and acacias, and open forests west of Herberton, where rare plants such as the purple acacia can be seen.

Although attendance at the Seminar is normally restricted to SGAP members, others wishing to attend may be able to do so if places are available. Further details can be obtained from the Conference Convenor, Lorna Murray (lg.murray@mailbox.uq.edu.au). Full and daily registration is available.

Rainforest Restoration

Two recent publications will be of interest to those involved in rainforest restoration:

  • Subtropical Rainforest Restoration - A practical manual for landowners and land managers on caring for subtropical rainforest remnants and establishing rainforest plantings. It also includes data on over 300 subtropical rainforest trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers and identifies the preferred soil types for each species, the growth rates and growth habits.

  • Common Weeds of Northern New South Wales Rainforest - a practical manual on identification and control.

Further information from the Big Scrub Landcare Group, PO Box 814, Mullumbimby, NSW, 2482.

From the newsletter of SGAP's Mid North Coast Group

A New Use for Tea Tree Oil???

Anyone living in Sydney will be only too aware of the parasite Cryptosporidium (and its sidekick Giardia). For over a month Sydneysiders have been advised to boil all drinking water due to the discovery of high numbers of both organisms in the water supply....this despite the commissioning of a major water filtration plant only a year or two ago.

A major embarrassment to the Year 2000 Olympic city??? You bet! Several prominent heads have already rolled over the issue.

I mention this because I was sorting through some old bits and pieces that I had filed over the last couple of years and I came across a short item called "Cryptosporidium and Tea Tree Oil?" from one of the mailing lists that I subscribe to. Given recent events, this caught my attention. C. Frazier posed the question:

Crypto Cartoon

I am currently researching herbal possibilities for a conventionally untreatable case of the parasite CRYPTOSPORIDIUM. Patient has lost over 50% of body of mass.

TEA TREE OIL has been suggested as a last measure. I can not find any reference to TEA TREE OIL and parasites that include dosages. The question is threefold:

  1. Has TEA TREE OIL been used in parasites, in general?
  3. If so, what are the suggested dosages/administration?

All conventional medications have failed.

As far as I am aware, the only response was from J. Garcia:

Most herbals describe the 'external' use of Melaleuca alternifolia oil. I did find some references that may interest you. "The Healing Power of Herbs" by Michael Murray indicates: "The leaves of M.alternifolia were also used by the early settlers of Australia to make tea, hence the further use of the popular name of tea tree".

"The Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils" by Julia Lawless lists parasiticide as one of the actions for Tea Tree oil. As does "The Essential Oils Book" by Colleen Dodt.

"Herbal Healing for Women" by Rosemary Gladstar gives a dosage of 15 drops tea tree oil in a glass of warm water, once per day. This treatment was for, of all things, yeast infections. Tea tree oil is listed numerous times in the literature as treatment for this problem, but the application is always a douche, not internal. This reference specifically indicates the tea tree oil/warm water mixture is used internally as she gives a method of encapsulating the mixture to counteract its unpleasant taste.

Not particularly definitive! However, given Sydney's recent water supply woes, perhaps the authorities should consider dosing the supply with tea tree oil instead of chlorine! Not only might it eliminate Cryptosporidium, a cup of tea could be obtained direct from the hot water supply.......

Well, maybe not

Good growing

Brian Walters

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Australian Plants online - September 1998
The Society for Growing Australian Plants