Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Paperbark trees

According to new research there could be as many as three trillion trees on our planet. This article on the BBC website explains more about how researchers ‘counted’ those trees. There’s a huge margin for error, so the actual number could be closer to 500 billion or ten times greater than three trillion. Whatever the true figure there’s no doubt numbers are dwindling. We chop down 15  billion a year, and replant only 5 billion.

paperbark tree (photographer Greg Muller)

paperbark tree (photographer Greg Muller)

Much as I rail against living in Sydney, our small suburb of this densely populated city is a green oasis compared to many, thanks to a local council that does everything it can to protect and plant trees. One of my unexpected favourites is the paperbark, which from a distance is a pretty shabby sort of tree with straggling limbs and scraggy leaves; it wouldn’t win any prizes for neatness. But the beauty of its bark takes my breath away.

Up close, anyone could hazard a guess what this Australian native might be called just by looking at the wafer thin bark that peels away, warped and twisted into endless misshapen layers.

Aboriginals made good use of it for thousands of years, stripping the bark to form ready-made sleeping mats for newborn babies. An Aboriginal guide once explained to me that the bark contains a natural insecticide that repels insects.

Whenever I pass a paperbark tree on one of the back streets of Balmain I’m struck by its unusual beauty.

A living work of art.


7 comments on “Paperbark trees

  1. nantubre
    September 3, 2015

    tree farming is a huge industry where I live. Thank God for those responsible for replanting! I love trees – we live in the middle of the woods.


  2. Eliza Waters
    September 3, 2015

    Sobering stats – that we are using up more of this planet than we are replacing will lead to ruin eventually, if we don’t wake up soon. I LOVE trees (all plants really) we owe them such a debt of gratitude for all they have (and continue to) provided us. The paperbark you’ve shown is a beauty to be sure!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      September 7, 2015

      Me too Eliza, I can’t imagine how anything or anywhere could be more beautiful than this planet. That’s probably heresy but I sometimes feel like we are already living in paradise and we just don’t realise it.


      • Eliza Waters
        September 7, 2015

        Totally agree with that, Deb. Heaven is here on earth! Wake up and smell the roses, people! 😉


  3. bkpyett
    September 4, 2015

    I love the bit about the paperbark being used for Aboriginal babies mats. Interesting stats too, Deb. Scary to think how quickly we are devastating this planet. Beautiful tree!


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This entry was posted on September 3, 2015 by and tagged , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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