About Me

My photo

I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Australian Christmas Trees

A touch premature perhaps, but we're about to head off for a few days for a family Christmas at Nowra (3 hours away on the Shoalhaven River, near the New South Wales south coast). 

Apart from the traditional northern hemisphere image, Christmas Tree means different things to different people in Australia, depending on where you live. In New South Wales it refers to a rainforest tree whose hitherto inconspicuous sepals develop dramatically and turn red after the petals drop.
Ceratopetalum gummeriferum, family Cunoniaceae.
Victorian Christmas Bush on the other hand (which also grows well north into New South Wales!) is a member of the mint family, with copious snowy white flowers in wet mountain gullies at Christmas time.
Prostanthera lasianthos, family Lamiaceae.
To a South Australian or Tasmanian, Christmas Bush refers to an equally prolifically white-flowered spiky shrub whose summer flowers attract hordes of native insects.
Bursaria spinosa, family Pittosporaceae.
A West Australian though would immediately think of Western Australian Christmas Tree, a wonderfully showy root parasite (a member of the mistletoe family in fact) which glows in the western heat.
Nuytsia floribunda, family Loranthaceae.
Wherever you are, and whatever this time of year means to you, may it be happy and peaceful - and full of the wonders of nature!

Back on Friday 28 December.


2 comments:

Susan said...

Bon fĂȘte -- ours is set to be distinctly soggy, with rain, but not very cold, for the foreseeable.

Ian Fraser said...

Merci bien Susan - et bon fĂȘte a vous et les votres. In the event I'm not sure that ours was much warmer than yours, though it's warming up again nicely now.