black gum (Eucalyptus ovata)

Size: 
10 to 30 metres
Form: 
Tree
Natural Distribution: 
Widespread in Tasmania and south-eastern Australia.
Description: 

Black gums cope well with poorly-drained, clay soils which often dry out in summer - perfect for Taroona! 

Aboriginal people used black gum timber to make waddies (clubs) and digging sticks. These days, its timber is valued by the hardwood industry. 

Its species name 'ovata' refers to its oval-shaped leaves, while its common name 'black' refers to its overall darker appearance than white gum, with which it is often found growing. Throughout Taroona, black gum, white gum, blue gum and white peppermint intermingle. Once you get to know them - they're fairly easy to tell apart. 

Distinguishing features for black gum include rough barked lower trunk; creamy-smooth upper trunk which sheds barks in long ribbons; oval-shaped young leaves, alternate on the stem; and diamond-shaped buds/flowers/fruits in clusters of up to seven. 

Taroona's eucalypts are too large for most suburban blocks, which is why protecting them in our foreshore, gully and school bushland reserves is so important . It's also very important to nurture the next generation of gums, as loss of mature gums significantly reduces the overall biodiversity of Taroona. 

Loss of black gums and blue gums in particular, also threatens the survival of the nationally endangered swift parrot. These migratory birds spend autumn and winter in Victoria and New South Wales, and arrive in Tasmania during spring to breed in the hollows of mature blue or black gums. They also feed solely on the nectar from these trees' flowers. 

Habitat value

Both black gums and blue gums provide food and nesting hollows for the endangered swift parrot. Black gums also provide food and shelter for a great variety of other birds, mammals and insects.

(Photos:  Fiona Rice and Richard Barnes)

STUDENT INQUIRY QUESTION

Why is it so important to protect Taroona's black gums?