Saturday, 28 January 2012

Boonjie Tulip Oak

Or not.

For the past few weeks, whenever the wind stirs the canopy, it liberates thousands of tulip oak (Argyrodendron) seeds. Encased in winged capsules (samaras), the seeds helicopter down. Depending on the air currents (and surrounding vegetation), they may travel a long way from the source.

Argyrodendron samaras with the remnants of Little Poss's dinner
The samaras are 5 cm long; the cicada wings 6 cm.

The nearest Argyrodendron is 50 m from the house

Most of the seeds are trapped by the canopy

As Portia, Shakespeare's Venetian botanist, said
The samaras of Argyrodendron are not restrain'd,
They droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath;
And there are bloody millions of them; look
At this mess. What if they all germinate?
A handful of species of Argyrodendron have been described from Queensland, but many more are known to occur here. This one, which I think is the undescribed A. sp. Boonjie (B.Hyland 2139RFK), has a limited range in the Atherton Tablelands between 600 and 800 metres above sea level. The other possibility is that it is the more widespread Mackay tulip oak (A. actinophyllum diversifolium), but that appears to be restricted to lower altitudes. Argyrodendron experts out there, please let me know what you think. (My definition of Argyrodendron expert is anybody who knows more about them than I do. And that's pretty much everyone.)

Argyrodendron actinophyllum (green), A. sp. Boonjie (blue).
Specimen data reproduced from Australia's Virtual Herbarium
with permission of the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria Inc.

Boonjie is on the western side of Mt Bartle Frere. When you mention the place around here, someone will say, ‘Did you hear about the murder?’

'No,' you'll respond. And because you hadn't read about in the local rag you know there must be some sensational aspect suppressed by a conspiracy of silence. So you'll lean forward and say, 'What murder?'

And then they’ll suck their teeth, tip back their hat and perform other clich├ęd gestures used by lazy writers to create suspense through character, before telling you the gruesome details.

‘Oh yes. A rum thing. It happened in 1928....’


laurak@forestwalkart said...

i remember those little helicopter thingies...falling from the maple trees. when i was a kid...we used to open the pod was sticky in there...and we'd put them on our noses!

in that top picture...looks like cicada wings!

Snail said...

They are, indeed. Those wings are the un-horrible bits left over from Little Poss's dinner.