Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Interesting Australian Tree

I guess Ben and I were biology majors for a reason because we have really been enjoying learning about and indentifying the flora and fauna while here in Australia.  Another new tree we saw while in Cradle Mountain was the fagus, also called the deciduous beech.
The fagus is the only winter-deciduous tree in Australia meaning it loses it's leaves seasonally and in April the leaves change color to red and gold like what we are used to in the fall in Michigan.  The fagus is found nowhere else in the world except Tasmania.  Trees live for about 250 years and the oldest known tree is 350 years old.  The fagus needs 1800 mm (71 inches) of rain each year.

Another interesting plant we saw a lot of at Cradle Mountain was buttongrass.

Buttongrass grows in some of the most nutrient poor areas in the world and is very adapted to fire.  It grows where it is very wet, with poor drainage, and on nutrient poor rock.  In Tasmania, buttongrass occupies one-seventh of the island.  The flowers on the buttongrass are round like buttons, hence the name.

On another subject, I sent all the Christmas gifts for our families today.  It was so fun picking gifts out for them, but very weird to be Christmas shopping in 70 degree weather.  We, of course, have no Christmas decorations here so I bought a few decorations for our place.  I miss our nativity set from home though.  We went to the Department of Emergency Medicine Christmas party for Ben's work on Saturday.  It was fun to meet some of Ben's colleagues and some of the nurses put on a really funny Christmas skit.  Hope you are all enjoying getting ready for the holidays.

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