Tag Archives: Daintree Rainforest

Still at home enjoying life

Reading and listening to many personal accounts of life during 2020 constantly reminded us of how lucky we are to live in our relatively isolated tropical paradise. While we continue to abide by any recommended Coronovirus safety procedures we have been able to enjoy many wonderful experiences with close friends in our local area. A morning with our friend Murray on one his Daintree Boatman tours is always a delight, especially when the tides are suitable for him to navigate Barratt Creek. He always gives us plenty of time to admire these magnificent Water Gums – Tristaniopsis exiliflora which grow next to the outflow from our wetlands. I don’t know their age but I have loved these trees since I first saw them in 1985.

A favourite view of these magnificent Tristaniopsis with reflections in the still waters of Barratt Creek.

We have been fortunate in that we had already planned for a year at home in 2020, long before the current global pandemic took hold. Last year we caught up with several building maintenance issues in addition to giving our house garden and orchard some much needed tender loving care. Allowing ourselves time to simply enjoy being here, in addition to the satisfaction we have in our achievement has given us both a renewed love for Wild Wings & Swampy Things. It is a wonderful feeling to admire trees that we have grown from seed which are now providing food and shelter for our local wildlife.

One of the major regular tasks is grass mowing which, although considerably reduced in recent years, remains an energy consuming activity. Earlier this year I had my first experience of walking through a ‘food forest’ harvesting fruit from a variety of trees as we went. Although I knew of the concept I hadn’t experienced the sheer delight and I was inspired to rethink our house garden as well as the orchard. After collecting seed from fruit gifted to me during the abundant tropical summer harvesting period I have grown a collection of several exotic tropical fruit trees to add to the diversity in our orchard as well as creating a more productive garden near the house.

Our energetic young friend Nina with a February harvest from a nearby food forest – Marang, Chempadak, Engkala, Rollinia and Abiu along with a bunch of greens for our salad that evening. I helped carry the fruit but she was the one climbing the trees – up one Chempedak to 20m!
Sweet melt-in-the-mouth morsels of Marang fruit, a member of the Moraceae family.

Just looking at that photo of the Marang takes me back to our hot and humid summer days spent sharing a wonderful variety of fruits and making new friends.
From exotic fruit to native rainforest – such is the diversity of our lives. We continue our voluntary work with Rainforest Rescue identifying properties which may be suitable for purchase and subsequent protection. We make a thorough assessment of the property’s vegetation on site which gives us the opportunity to explore some interesting forest. It also exercises our memories or in my case, tests my identification skills as I’m not as methodical as Allen! This is followed by a check through a criteria list that Allen has developed, taking in to account the property’s connectivity to National Park, World Heritage or other protected land, it’s likelihood of being settled, the extent of weed incursions etc.

Ground level view through old rainforest

Allen is also spending time collecting seed for the Rainforest Rescue nursery, as production is increasing to meet the demand for trees. We are pleased that there are now a number of large regeneration projects happening in the area – wonderfully positive news!

Gomphandra australiana bravely germinates on the forest floor – so fragile amongst the forest debris.
Marine, RR’s nursery manager, exploring Lot 18 Kimberley Road with us. The terrain can sometimes be a bit challenging but there is virtually no lawyer-vine on this site which makes movement through the trees much easier.
Agyrodendron peralatum – a delicate winged seed called a samara, which helicopters its way to the forest floor.

There is so much to observe in the rainforest, so much beauty on the forest floor, the trunks of the trees and the everchanging shapes and hues of the foliage as light filters through.

Fan Palm understory at Lot 18 – magnificent old rainforest.

We have always known that a walk in the forest is good for our souls – I believe the term is now ‘forest bathing’? Whatever it might be called we hope that residents and visitors to the area will still be able to experience a quiet walk through tropical rainforest in the years ahead.

Not a Fungus

Although it certainly resembles a fungus and is sometimes referred to as ‘fungus root’ this  flowering plant belongs in the family Balanophoraceae and is found in Queensland’s moist rainforests.

Balanophora fungosa
Not frequently observed as they are often partially covered by leaf litter on the rainforest floor, this unusual plant is a leafless root parasite needing no chlorophyll.  Leaves have been replaced by scales and each plant consists of a single stem about 8 cm high.  Male and female flowers are produced separately on the plant.  The male flowers encircle the stem below the club shaped organ which is covered in tiny female flowers.

Balanophora fungosa detail

The tiny fruit are numerous and cover the club-shaped receptacle.  Once the plant has fruited it collapses, much as fungi do.  In the last photo you can see  new stems emerging from their underground tuber while the collapsed fruiting body appears as a dark brown mass which merges into the rainforest floor and could be easily overlooked.

Balanophora fruit collapsed

References:  “Fruits of the Australian Tropical Rainforest” W&WT Cooper; “Native Plants Queensland” Keith A.W.Williams; “Amongst Trees” R.Russell et al.