A GLIMPSE OF THE RAINFOREST

Rainforest in Tasmania is defined as forest dominated by tree species which are able to regenerate without large-scale disturbance. The minimum height limit is often taken to be 8 metres but sometimes lowered to include dwarf rainforests in sub-alpine areas. One thing which is clear about the definition of rainforest is that it excludes any eucalypts because these usually need a fire to regenerate.

Rainforest requires at least 1000mm of rainfall per year and at least 50mm per month in summer. This rainfall is usually received over more than 50% of Tasmania, particularly in the west. Soil fertility, altitude and past fires mean that only 20% of Tasmania supports rainforest today and is now concentrated in the west, north-west and north-east, with only remnant patches in the east.
The rainforest flowering plants consist of about 80 core species and a large proportion of these are found growing naturally only in Tasmania. There are about 30 more which grow in close alliance with rainforest species. Non-flowering plants are abundant in rainforest including about 50 species of fern (which is half of the species in Tasmania) and many lichens, liverworts and mosses.  A visit to this magical place is worthwhile at any time of year, with carpets of colour in late spring, berries in mid summer, golden Fagus in autumn and exotically hued fungi in winter.



Euchryphia lucida
EUCRYPHIA LUCIDA
Leatherwood
Euchryphiaceae


A fair-sized tree of the rainforest, and a source of nectar for the famous Leatherwood Honey, flowers in December to January. It has been used successfully in gardens and as a container plant in a cool, dapple-shaded environment.


Euchryphia x intermedia
E.x intermedia flower


EUCRYPHIA X INTERMEDIA

A  hybrid between E. lucida and E. glutinosa which occurred, by chance in a garden in Rostrevor in N. Ireland



Prionotes cerinthoides PRIONOTES CERINTHOIDES
Climbing Heath
(Epacridaceae)  

A crimson-flowered climbing shrub in the west and south-west rainforests, growing on the ground or epiphytic on the trunks of trees, sometimes to a height of 10 metres.


DICKSONIA ANTARCTICA.
Tree Fern: Man Fern  
(Dicksoniaceae) 

Dicksonia antarctica


Dicksonia antarctica fiddlehead




One of  four other species of tree fern, Dicksonia is popular as a garden feature for a shaded, sheltered spot with adequate moisture. It has large fronds (leaves) arising from a stout trunk up to 4 m or more in height and the base of each frond is covered with dense red-brown hairs.








The spores are protected by flaps around the edges of the fronds. Each spring new fronds emerge from the traditional 'fiddle-head' form. 


Nothofagus cunninghamii
NOTHOFAGUS CUNNINGHAMII
Myrtle Beech
Fagaceae

Tall tree to 50 metres. Triangular leaves to 1.8 cm long with bluntly toothed margins.
Spring foliage in golden/red hues make this a striking plant although the flowers and fruits are insignificant. Prefers richly composted soil with ample moisture. It’s slow-growing habit lends itself to container or small garden cultivation.
 



ANOPTERUS GLANDULOSUS
Tasmanian Laurel
Escalloniaceae
Anopterus glandulosus

A tall shrub of the high rainfall forests, often under a canopy of Myrtle, Nothofagus
cunninghamii. In such shaded positions the plant becomes straggly and the branches tend to layer forming thickets. Leaves elliptical, about 12 cm long, stalked, thick and glossy, margins with coarse well spaced teeth. Flowers in terminal racemes are cup-shaped, 2 cm across with small sepals, 6 fleshy concave white or pale pink petals, 6 straight stamens and a long upright conical ovary of 2 carpels with short diverging styles. Fruit, a capsule containing 2 winged elongated seeds. Flowering October.  Wet eucalypt forests and rainforest from sea level to 1000 m.  Tas endemic.

 Information courtesy of Launceston Field Naturalists Club.

Cultivation:  can be grown in a container using compost mix with native formula slow-release fertiliser and water crystals.  Needs semi shady site, giving protection from hot afternoon sun and drying winds. 


AGASTACHYS ODORATA                       
White Waratah
Proteaceae


Agastachys odorata



Slender spikes of small white flowers which persist. as dead blackened spikes. This species
is often seen as a shrub but does form a small tree in rainforests on poor soils, and is
particularly common near rocky outcrops on quartzite hillsides in the south-west .  The
habit of the plant is upright with most branches tending to grow vertically. The shiny thick
leaves are usually about 5 cm long and the flowers are strongly scented.  Flowering is in
summer at low altitudes, autumn on higher peaks. Few records of it being successfully
cultivated, even in Tasmania where it is an endemic. The common name, white waratah,
indicates a close relationship with the true waratah (Telopea sp.) but this is not so. The
leaves resemble those of  Telopea which may be the origin of  the common name, but the
flowers are very different.



DRYMOPHILLA CYANOCARPA                   
Native Solomon's Seal

Liliaceae
Drymophilla cyanocarpa
Stem simple, sometimes branched in the leafy portion, arising as bare stems from a
tuberous root stock then arching over and bearing alternative leaves and auxillary flowers.
Leaves lanceolate, thin, in 2 opposite rows, 8 cm long, held horizontally. Flowers 1.5 cm
in diameter, white, shortly stalked in the axils of the leaves, facing downwards.  Perianth
of 6 white segments, spreading; 6 stamens with oblong anthers. Fruit a stalked globular or
heart-shaped berry, turquoise-blue or paler, to 16 mm across; seeds 8-10, shining, brown.
Flowering November-January. Widely distributed in damp shady places in forests.

Cultivation - may be grown from seed but the plants are difficult to grow on to flowering
size.
TAS. VIC. NSW
Information courtesy of the Launceston Field Naturalists Club



PART ONE          PART TWO               PART THREE            PART FOUR           PART FIVE MORE RAINFOREST PLANTS - RICHEAS
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