Saturday, 4 July 2009

Fruits of the forest

Pro tip: When collecting fruit from the forest floor, remember that not everything that's dark, round and full of seeds is actually fruit.

Instead of unpacking — I am getting used to living in a maze of randomly placed boxes — I went for a stroll along the drive way to see what fruit I could find.

My property has a good supply of quandongs (Elaeocarpus). These beautiful, lichen-covered, buttressed trees produce large quantities of fruit that bring in wompoo pigeons and friarbirds. They tower over the canopy, their pendant fruit strung like bunting along the highest branches. Only a neon sign saying 'Free food here' would be more conspicuous.

Green fruit

Not to everyone's taste

Too much effort

Seed casing: branes!

Pay dirt

I also found an old seed case from an Atherton oak (Athertonia diversifolia) but haven't been able to find the source. This is largely due to my weak plant ID skillz rather than the cryptic nature of the tree. When it flowers in the late Wet, it should be easier to spot. It produces racemes up to 30 cm long that are packed with cream to brown flowers. Even I couldn't miss that.

The case encloses a large, sweet seed, which is a favourite of white-tailed rats. Maybe I could train a rat to fetch and open for me?


mick said...

Fruit are fascinating. Boxes can be 'liveable'. But if you are on dial-up it's impossible!

Snail said...

I'm hoping that Telstra come through with an antenna that'll pick up a decent signal. Mind you, if they do, I'm sure it'll only be a matter of time before the possums nest in it.

Denis Wilson said...

I have seen (was given) some fruits of a large Eleocarpus, and tried to clean them up, and then to propagate them.
Interesting, but unsuccessful experiment.
Love the way you dissected the fruit.
I think I need a resident seed processor (Cassowary) to achieve the desired result.
None of them here. Have you found any yet?

Neomyrtus said...

I take it that you have a copy of Cooper and Cooper's "Fruits of the Australian Tropical Rainforest", now that you are confronted with pyrenes, drupes, follicles, berries, capsules, cones, pods, seeds and samaras on a daily basis.

Snail said...

This patch is zoned as 'essential habitat' for cassowaries but I'm pretty sure there aren't any about. They're certainly in the neighbourhood. Just not in this area.

I've found a few fallen ftuit but they get cleaned up pretty quickly. Not exactly sure what's eating them on the ground. I'm blaming white-tailed rats, because ... well ... they eat everything.

When I get settled, I might see if I can germinate some of the seeds. I'm not far from the reveg people, so they might have a few tips.

Snail said...

Neomyrtus, I have one on order. Can't wait for it to arrive.

Was going to include stinging tree fruit but something cleaned up the berries before I'd got my camera sorted out. You have to be quick around here.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail
Living on the very southern end of a "tropical type" of rainforest, I have started to come to terms with fleshy fruit, and their germination. Regularly involves an animal gut - bird or bat. Mammals (esp, rats) tend to destroy the "germ". Not sure about Flying Foxes - they might do that, but perhaps their habits mean they swallow, rather than chew, as rats do.
The other thing is that germination is often slow, with the root appearing over 6 months, but the leaves often not appearing till the following season.
So patience is the answer. That and feeding seeds to chooks might be worth trying - but no doubt you don't have any (yet).
You have years of fun ahead of you adjusting to life in a serious forest.