This Long-leaved Box (Eucalyptus goniocalyx), or Bundy, in Burnside Lane, Marraweeny (near Strathbogie), may not be quite as old as the son of Enoch, the father of Lamech and the grandfather of Noah -969 yo, according to the Book of Genesis (and Wikipedia), but of the trees deserving the title, this one is certainly up there.
Advanced in age, full of character and still looking extremely healthy, the tree is ancient and almost certainly predates the English conquest of New Holland. This must be among the oldest trees in the Strathbogie Ranges and perhaps beyond – a big call and I’m happy to be proved wrong.
Long-leaved Box trees in the Strathbogies usually grow on drier ridges and slopes, where soils are often shallow or rocky, in the company of trees like Red Stringybark and Broad-leaved peppermint, among others. All this conspires to constrain tree growth, so big trees are usually old. Trees over 1 m in diameter growing in these conditions are usually considered to be more than 100 years old, so how old is this fellow – 200, 300 years old, more?
This Methuselah is about 15 m high, has a diameter at breast height of 2.635 m (girth 8.28 m) and has a solid, intact trunk (the cross-section is oval in shape). The limbs growing out of that enormous trunk are themselves the size of substantial trees. What’s more, once a tree gets to this size, the trunk and major limbs change little over the decades – most growth and change in shape occurs among the outer branches.
Standing beside its imposing trunk and beneath it’s meaty boughs is humbling indeed. I suspect it survived the axe and then chainsaw because it was already too big and too dangerous to fell when those tools began to threaten.
The spread of the canopy, at 26 m x 37 m, is the size of a large house. It’s twice as wide as it is high! The rough, fissured bark, tree hollows, extensive leaf surfaces and blossoms are no doubt home to a myriad of spiders, insects and other invertebrates, not to mention a magnet for any birds and tree dwelling mammals in the area.
Imagine the majesty of a forest of these giants, as probably occurred here, once.
Big, old trees often have bark and shape characteristics that look different to younger trees. For this tree, the characteristics that confirm it is a Long-leaved Box include: rounded and opposite juvenile leaves, somewhat cylindrical buds in clusters of up to seven and on a flattened stalk (peduncle), cup-shaped fruit on a conspicuously flattened stalk (peduncle).
The tree is growing on a neglected roadside amid wild oats and blackberries, where most other native vegetation has been cleared, though stands of Silver Wattle are regenerating. Happily, there are young Long-leaved Boxes, likely it’s progeny, regenerating nearby. All up, this is a tree deserving of care and respect, even reverence.
Thanks to our neighbour, Roz, for alerting me to this beautiful tree. If you visit, please respect the fences and private property.