Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2 Rainforest Pioneer trees

Omalanthus populifolius 
 Native Poplar

Polyscias murrayi 
 Pencil Cedar

These two trees make an appearance from Gippsland in Victoria to Northern Queensland. They have evolved to be the first on the scene to fill a gap whenever a tree falls in the rainforest , land is disturbed bordering thick forest or a road verge is cleared of excess vegetation. The native poplar, which is also called bleeding heart is so successful in colonisation that it often appears in a variety of habitats and even makes an appearance in shady city gardens far from where you would expect to see it. It is a quick growing small tree, rarely growing more than 4 metres tall with a single trunk and bushy crown. It is the heart shaped red/orange leaves which appear throughout the year which gives it the bleeding heart common name and makes it quite distinctive when seen against the dark green of surrounding trees. The insignificant tassel like flowers followed by glaucous 10mm fruit are very attractive to birds which carry the ingested seeds and deposit them far and wide. Newly established trees are able to eek out a living in quite dry and inhospitable places though their leaves are often much smaller than those growing in better sites.
The Pencil Cedar is a more elegant tree with a beautiful silhouette when seen against the sky above surrounding vegetation. It is clever in establishing itself by means of a slender trunk to over 6 metres before deciding to branch. It grows a further 6 metres with an umbrella shaped crown of metre long pinnate leaves consisting of 30 opposite leaflets and one terminal leaflet. At this time of year it produces greenish yellow flowers on large branched panicles followed by small red fruit which are also attractive to birds.

The Catbird likes to eat the fruit of these trees.


  1. Interesting. The Deodar cedar whic grows in the Himalayan states does not resemble the pencil cedar. Perhaps very distant cousins!

  2. loved ur space very much..happily following you....