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Where are all the saplings?


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I see that the wattle has come into flower, and the eucalypts have set seed. Each tree and bush sets hundreds of seed, more this season after all the rain. There are trees in the billions on this wide land. How come, then, that there are not millions, or hundreds of thousands of saplings amongst them?

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Not a problem here, OME. Livestock grazing is a major reason new seedlings don’t progress; regular burning off is another. All it takes is a bit of rain and up they come.

 

When we bought our couple of hectares during the 82 drought, the neighbour’s horses had chewed it down to bare dirt and were starting to ringbark the few mature trees. Keeping introduced grazing animals off the place for a decade gave the land a chance to repair. As well as the hundreds I planted, mobs of self-sown trees come up. If I stopped trimming them, this place would be all forest in a decade. The second generation is now so prolific that I have to trim them back with my wizzer.

 

Related story: since white fellas stopped the regular firemanagement of the land, cypress pine has grown up on many of our local hills, choking out other plants and creating a virtual ecological dead zone. These thickets are now prone to soil erosion and the trees are so close together they’ll never grow to yield good timber. This disaster could have been prevented with a judicious bit of burning off.

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Yes Nev, I haven’t seen them eat newly sprouting tree, but it wouldn’t surprise me. A family of Black Wallaroos live on our block and we watch them from the breakfast table. They tend to browse a range of vegatation types, rather than grazing like introcued animals.

 

One major factor limiting new trees getting established is chemical warfare from established trees, particularly Eucalypts. You rarely see anything growing under a gum tree.

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Never mind !.

Now we are back to the 40,s/50,s 'brown paper bags', we wil have to extend the harvesting of ' old growth ' trees.

For wood-chips.

I still remember the Tassie fight over saving the old growth timber.

spacesailor

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My property is not grazed all over and the wattles and eucalypts do not take off in plague proportions. There seems to be a natural regrowth rate.

Cyprus pnewas logged for years and then the greenies got involved and stopped logging, hence the dense stands of stick thin timber nowadays.

A lot of timber needs fire to activate the seeds and also a lot need good conditions to germinate. This results in big stands of eucalypt all at the same age, all due to a good wet period.

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5 hours ago, old man emu said:

I see that the wattle has come into flower, and the eucalypts have set seed. Each tree and bush sets hundreds of seed, more this season after all the rain. There are trees in the billions on this wide land. How come, then, that there are not millions, or hundreds of thousands of saplings amongst them?

If you let it dry off and put a fire through the place, you'll get plenty of wattle seed come up. Wattles have a very hard seed coating and don't propagate under every sort of condition. If you are trying to get wattle seed to strike in pots, you can slash the seed pods with a knife, or some people use sandpaper to sand patches through the outer coating. On the other side of the coin, some wattles sucker readily from other tree roots in the right condition. With wattles like brigalow, if you clear it by bulldozing or scrub pulling, it will grow back twenty times thicker unless a cutter bar is used. The cutter bar attaches to the rear rippers on a dozer and traverses the subsoil cutting the roots.

 

They're one of my favourite trees, the acacias. There's some handy timber among them, particularly trees like mulga, gidyea and rosewood for fencing. Hard as your mother in law's heart and great for fencing and firewood. An open fire, that is; too hot burning in combustion stoves unless you are careful with it.

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8 minutes ago, facthunter said:

Wattles are usually among the first to recolonise but they don't live long. Black wattle are good firewood.. All good for termites. Nev

Wattles are not quite uniform about the termites, Nev. There's wattle and there's wattle. Some of it is short living stuff, lasting about seven years. Other wattles like mulga and gigyea last for decades, possibly a lifetime. Gidyea and mulga fenceposts last in the ground as long as any ironbark posts. I remember when I was a kid, there was a lot of mulga cut and polished into Australiana souvineers. A lot of ash trays with an aboriginal painted on them.

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One thing I like about wattles is the small fern-like leaf they grow when they are an initial seedling. This true leaf harks back zillions of years to when they grew in a wetter climate, well before they adapted to dry climates. Wattles don't have leaves once they get past the very early seedling stage. The things we call leaves on a wattle are the leaf stems that have flattened to take over the role of a leaf in the dry climate. I like watching the fern-like true leaf as it's stem gradually grows and flattens out, ending with the true leaf dying off and leaving the flat elongated leaf stems or phyllodes to resemble and take on the role of the leaf.

800px-Acacia_koa_with_phyllode_between_the_branch_and_the_compound_leaves.png

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47 minutes ago, willedoo said:

There's some handy timber among them, particularly trees like mulga,

A thing of beauty is a Mallee root that has been turned on a lathe and then polished. Useless for anything other that the pleasure it gives you. 

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Just now, old man emu said:

A thing of beauty is a Mallee root that has been turned on a lathe and then polished. Useless for anything other that the pleasure it gives you. 

I should google Mallee. It doesn't grow up here and I wouldn't know a piece of it if I fell over it. I think a big attraction with polishing mulga is the variation of grain and colour with the dark brown true wood and the lighter sapwood colours.

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It's one of those retirement dreams I had, of playing around with timber and making things. A mate of mine is right into polishing up native timbers. When he worked out in the desert quite a few years ago, he used to bring back various samples of desert shrubs and timbers to see if they polished up ok. Some of them were really nice, and from shrubs you would not normally give a second thought to.

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We've got a scrubby little Acacia native to the W.A. Wheatbelt called the Wodjil (Acacia Neurophylla). It only grows to a maximum of about 5M, mostly about 2-3M. But if you can find a piece of Wodjil wood big enough to play with on a wood lathe, it provides a very interesting, hard, and attractive piece of woodwork.

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