Eucalyptus Gunnii - Skeleton

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Skeleton

Past kings of the Tasmanian high plains these tree are in rapid decline due to warmer winters allowing grazing animals and insects to devastate the new growth.

The Plans and Maps

The Plans and Maps

A GPS and maps featuring satellite images marked with the locations where the tree might possibly be found were necessary tools. Unmarked property boundaries, barbwire fences, snakes, sites hidden by thick tea tree scrub and the risk of getting injured or lost were all obstacles that required attention.

Reaching the Sites

Reaching the Sites

Distances covered in a day reached 22km with tough terrain, poor weather and few results to speak of the survey was difficult going.

Poor Weather

Poor Weather

Weather during the day would rarely be considered ideal for field work. However, the work schedule was tight with few opportunities to stop for weather.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Habitat

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Habitat

The prime habitat of Gunnii is the open plains of the Tasmanian high country where cold air pools. The process is call "cold air drainage" and the coldest temperature recorded during the survey was -9 Celsius. It is so consistently cold in these areas that no trees can grow, instead the plains are inhabited by hardy bushes and grasses.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Habitat 2

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Habitat 2

The weather was relentless and few days were considered easy going. At times during the survey we would spend all day working in the rain which would mean us and our gear would be soaking. Managing the necessary scientific and photographic equipment during these times was incredibly difficult.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Expired

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Expired

Twisted and tangled expired trees dominate the plains near the town of Miena and for a very devastating impressions of this tree ultimate survival.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Wilderness

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Wilderness

Even in the pristine locations it's common to see a stand of trees in decline indicating that the cause of the decline was not based purely within the farmland environment.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Sunrise

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Sunrise

On occasion the sun did provide specular viewing opportunities for this remarkable tree. The locations we visited during the 25 day survey were remarkable in their untouched nature, we spend days wandering sites that might not have been visited in decades

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Cider

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Cider

The sap of Gunnii is as sweat as honey and traditionally it has been used to make an alcoholic cider. There are unconfirmed reports that it was used by the local aboriginal people the same way.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - History

Eucalyptus Gunnii - History

Many trees bare scars from where they were cut by Aboriginals in order to harvest the sweet sap. Some tree have successive scars up the height of the trunk indicating a long standing practice as the trees grew slowly over time.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - DNA Analysis

Eucalyptus Gunnii - DNA Analysis

Once sighted all suspected specimens had botanical samples were taken for DNA analysis. It is very common for Eucalyptus trees to be very difficult to identify due to cross breading or local conditions producing stunted or discoloured leaves.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Growth

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Growth

Detail of the young shoots of Gunnii shows just how discoloured the new leaves can be making it difficult to identify. This style of new growth is called glaucus growth and is an adaptation to local conditions.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Seeds

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Seeds

It was a rare chance to collect viable seed samples from the trees that we did find. 

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Flower Closeup

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Flower Closeup

During the entire 25 day survey only 2 trees were producing healthy flowers. This macro shot might be the best example of the tree flowers available.

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Survey

Eucalyptus Gunnii - Survey

Ms. Sanger enjoys a fine day of field work under a newly discovered Gunnii

Eucalyptus Gunnii spp. Gunnii

Eucalyptus Gunnii spp. Gunnii

Pristine, healthy and flowering. The best Eucalyptus gunnii spp. gunnii that we found during the survey.