Wednesday, 3 September 2014


There's a macadamia tree right next to the house. During the day, a coppery brushtailed possum naps in its branches. At night the possum uses it as a bridge to the roof. The tree doesn't quite reach the roof, so the last part of travel requires a big leap. Rustling leaves and a thump on the corrugated iron is followed by footsteps as the possum trudges (or scampers, depending on its mood) up one side of the roof, down the other and then across the carport to the trees on the other side. The return journey takes place at about 5.30 am, with the rustling, thump and drumming of marsupial paws starting at the carport. On most nights, the possum also scales the flue and/or the television aerial, presumably because it's a possum and those structures are there. In my experience, climbing on things and trying to break them open is what coppery brushtailed possums do. They are altogether lacking in the dignity of the green ringtailed possums, which also live around here.

The macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) is endemic to southern Queensland and northern NSW, but is planted widely outside its natural range.

A related species, Catalepidia heyana, occurs in rainforests from Mount Windsor (NW of Port Douglas) to the Walter Hill Range (W of Innisfail). The flowers of this local species are pale to deep pink. I haven't seen that species, but I'm sure it must be in cultivation somewhere.

The possum and I not the only ones to appreciate the macadamia tree. This soft-winged pollen beetle (?Carphurus sp., Melyridae) was sitting quietly on a leaf...until I decided to take a close up photograph of it. I pulled down the twig to get a better look. The twig broke. And the beetle went flying. With a comic spring effect. That's how I remember it, anyway.

Honeybees visit the flowers. They have plenty to choose from.

The tree is prolific, producing nuts all year round.

It's a good idea to be somewhere else when the mower's going. A flying macadamia nut can do some damage.

Rats love macadamia nuts. They eat them where they fall...

Or they carry them under the house, climb up the stumps and use the termite capping as dining tables. On cold nights, they sit on the hot water tank and drop the empty shells onto the ground. Well, they might as well dine in comfort!


Anonymous said...

How big do possums get there? The possums here in Minnesota, USA can get up to 25 pounds - which would pretty much bend my antenna if one were to successful scale to the top.
Just found your post ... like your efforts so far, especially your sense of humor.
Rosemary in Minnesota

Snail said...

Hi! Our possums don't weigh too much -- about 3kg (6 - 7 lbs) for a big one. (There are lots of species, but the ones I'm talking about are the common brushtails.) They sound as if they weight about 8 times that when they run across the roof!