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Injury to Forest Vegetation by Frost during
the Winter of 1895.
The winter of 1895 has been of exceptional severity in many parts of the Colony, and it was deemed desirable to obtain reports from the various foresters as to the effect of the excessive cold on the forest vegetation. Following are the replies from the foresters stationed at Picton, Cooranbong, Singleton, Booral, Port Macquarie, Armidale, Glen Innes, Casino, and Burringbar.
Mr. Forester Rotton, of Picton, reports :-“I have the honor to report that the turpentine seems to have suffered more than any other description of tree in my district, as I know of many very fine trees, and even belts of turpentine that have been totally destroyed by the severe frost and dry weather following. The kurrajong also has suffered, and in one instance I can point to a very fine tree, about sixteen years old, that has been killed through the same cause. The sassafras has been slightly affected, and a tree known locally in the Robertson district as the “ Possum Wood," has suffered very much. Grey gum has been touched slightly on the Cook bundoon Ranges, but nowhere else, and in some parts white box has been killed. The ironbarks, stringy barks, blackbutt, red box, yellow box, woollybutt, bloodwood, blue gum, coachwood, rosewood, beefwood, water gum, blue ash, feather-wood, and, in fact, most of the valuable brush timbers in my district have not suffered at all.”
Mr. Forester Martin, of Cooranbong, reports :-"I have the honor to state that I bave noticed the following trees to have been affected by the late frost, viz. :-Grey gum, blood wood, swamp gum, blackbutt, and spotted gum. In a young stage of growth, the saplings of above trees in many cases appear to be withered and dead. A good number of the mature trees above named have the leaves on their heads blanched. The frost appears not to have been so severe on the ranges as on the flat or partially cleared country. The trees above referred to have never been known in this district before to have been affected by frost. Scrub myrtle, turnip-wood, or pencil cedar, nettle tree (young growth), bangalow, and cabbage-tree palms, growing in exposed places, such as sides of roads, or tracts, or partially cleared areas, have all been more or less affected by frost; but as their natural growth is under superior trees in sheltered positions, it follows that if exposed they are liable to suffer from severe frost."
Mr. Forester Cobcroft, of Singleton, reports :-"The past winter has been one of the severest winters I ever felt both for man and beast, and as regards the severity of the frost and cold upon the indigenous trees in the district, I never experienced anything like it before in my life, acres and acres of the spotted gum saplings are loft just as if a scorching fire had passed through the timber, every leaf completely burnt by the frost, but I do not imagine for one moment that the trunk or saplings of the spotted gum will suffer much from the effects of the frost.”
Mr. Forester Rudder, of Booral, reports :-"I have the honor to place before you the following list of trees in the order, as it appeared to me, of their greatest injury from frost influence :-1. Spotted gum (Eu, maculata ; 2. Turpentine (Syncarpia laurifolia) ; 3. Tea-tree (Melaleuca leucadendron); 4. Brush box (Tristania conferta); 5. White mahogany (Eu, trioatha, Link.) ; 6. Green wattle (Acacia Leichhardtii) ;7. Apple-tree (Angophora subvelutina); 8. Blue gum (Eu. saligna); 9. Grey box (Eu. hemiphloia) ; 10. Ironbark (Eu, paniculata); 11. River oak (Casuarina Cunninghamiana) ; 12. Teatree (Melaleuca linariifolia). Brush trees and creepers generally, where much exposed, especially the stinging trees. Of the above list of trees, from Nos. 4 to 12, I have never before observed any of them to be cut down by frosts, as far as I can recollect. I have this time seen individual trees of mature age of Nos. 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, and 10, without a green leaf left upon them, but these were, generally, exceptional cases. The frost influence seemed to be irregular and most severe in places subject to sudden exposure to bunshine, or to currents of cold air. Perhaps a great deal of the frost influence may also be attributable to its long continuance for weeks together with scarcely any intermission. I am not prepared to say that any of the frost
observe carefully, and report the result later on. For observations, however, of the kind desired, it is much to be regretted the unfortunate occurrence of such unusual bush fires, so that now it will be difficult to distinguish between injury from them and the frosts.”
Mr. Forester Brown, of Port Macquarie, reports :-"I have the honor to forward my observations of the effects of the severity of the winter on indigenous trees. Nipped by the frost: Tea-tree, broad-leaf (Palpourie); young shoots of Syn carpia laurifolia. Leaves nipped in very exposed situations, where a cutting wind struck them : Tristania conferta; mangroves (Ægiceras majus) ; water gums (Eugenia ventenatii); and Tristania laurina—both very much cut up, the former most-native myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia); young fireball trees (Sterculia acerifolia) ; white cedar (Melia composita); scrub myrtle, strong-scented, small leaf, first time; native cherry (Exocarpus cupressiformis), first time; poison bush (Trema aspera); Litsæa dealbata; Nephelium leiocarpum. I consider in a few instances the dry season first slightly blighted the leaves, and the frost finished them. Leaves withering through drought: Ironbark, stringy bark, grey gum, blackbutt, tallow-wood, mohogany, spotted gum, leather jacket (Cupania semiglauca), bastard myall (Acacia glaucescens). All these very much cut up, which are growing on the slopes of very stony ridges. The trees on Mount Cogo, up the Wilson River, are all dead. No doubt if we do not shortly get rain, many of the hardwood trees must die."
Mr. Forester Sidding, of Armidale, reports :-“I have the honor to inform you that I have noticed the timber (especially young trees) more or less injured in several places. The excessive cold blasts seem to have been in strips and patches, and the trees within such parts have been apparently killed. The trees that have been affected are black sally, white and red gum, blackbutt, peppermint, wattle, stringybark, and myrtle. I have seen them all touched with frost during other winters, but not to the extent they show this year. I may state that some of the orchards here have suffered in the same way. I am of opinion that the drought bad something to do with this destruction as well as the frost."
Mr. Forester Deverell, of Glen Innes, reports :—"I have the honor to report that I can write with, no degree of certainty as to what trees are killed, as probably a good many of the trees may recover now that rain has come-in fact, on the table-land, I notice a lot of white gum saplings, which appeared to be affected badly, are now coming again nicely. "In Inverell, Bingara, and Warialda Land Districts I noticed chiefly suffering cherrytree, wattle, and kurrajong (mostly young trees and saps.). As far as I can remember, I never noticed any of the trees above mentioned injured by the weather before, though probably they may have been. In conclusion, I may state I will take notice when visiting forest reserve 1,373, county of Burnett, again, whether certain trees I noticed affected last month have come to life
Mr. Forester Crowley, of Casino, reports :-"I have the honor to inform you that the under-mentioned trees have been killed and injured by the frosts during the past winter: Lilly pilly, killed; box, blackbutt, red gum, stringybark, and black bean, nipped only. These were not known to be injured before, the young fig, as an ornamental tree, as usual, was killed."
Mr. Forester Pope, of Burringbar, reports :-“I have the honor to report that the whole of the timbers were, I think, more or less affected by the combination of drought and frost. The trees and undergrowth had an unmistakably dry and withered appearance, and there are more leaves lying on the ground at present than I have ever before noticed. The kinds of timber most affected were :-Ironbark, Cooloon or blue fig, Marara, stinging. tree (broad-leaved), tamarind. The first three mentioned, viz., ironbark, Cooloon, and Marara have never before been known to be affected by frost in this district. I think it possible that the fact of the Marara being the tallest of the brush timbers, and therefore more exposed, accounts for it being frosted to some extent. The ironbarks affected were those growing in gullies only. Only the broad-leaved stinging-trees were frosted-the small-leaved kind were not touched. With regard to the tamarind, only those growing in open paddocks-principally young trees —were frosted. I may add that in no case have I found any kind of timber, or even the undergrowth, actually killed. Everything is beginning to feel the effects of rain and warmer weather."
The following foresters, Mr. G. G. Benson, Bega ; Mr. J. S. Allan, Milton ; Mr. W. MacDonald, Kempsey; Mr. A. P. Huxham, Grafton ; Mr. W. Mecham, Tumut; Mr. O. Wilshire, Deniliquin ; Mr. J. A. Manton, Moama ; Mr. J. Hardiman, Narrandera ; Mr. S. Payten, Cooma; Mr. J. H. Smith, Dubbo; Mr. Kidston, Condobolin ; Mr. J. G. Postlethwaite, Grenfell ; Mr. R. Harris, Gunnedah ; Mr. T. H. B. McGee, Narrabri ;-report no injury to forest trees from frost. In the districts abutting on the Murray River the season has been a comparatively mild one, although exceptionally severe in most other parts of the Colony. Some foresters attribute the fatalities amongst forest trees this year to drought; others to drought and frost; one to the attacks of insects, and one states the injuries as probably attributable to a fungus origin,
No doubt this year has been a year of severe injury to forest trees, and the cause is, in most cases, a combination of the effects of frosts and drought. The frosts nipped the saplings, undergrowth, grass, &c., which, during the dry season, soon became inflammable. The drought continuinis, bush fires succeeded, and further damaged much forest vegetation
Speaking of the Gloucester district, Mr. Jesse Gregson, general superin. tendent of the A. A. Co., writes :-"I was amazed to see the havc which, I suppose, can be attributed to no other cause than frost. Acres uj on acres of green wattle (Acacia decurrens), fully grown, say 20 to 25 feet high, are, I believe, completely killed. Whole groves of tea-tree (Melaleuca linariifolia), some of the trunks of which are a foot in diameter, are apparently in the same condition. Lilly-pilly and ironwood do not grow in such masses, but most of them have suffered severely. Apple-trees (Angophora) are almost denuded of leaves. Ironbarks and gums have also suffered. The older residents all agree that they never saw such a state of things. I hare known New South Wales for forty years, and I certainly never saw the like.”
Botanical names of trees referred to in the foregoing :-Turpentine (Syncarpia laurifolia); kurrajong (Sterculia diversifolia); sassafras (Doryphora sassafras); 'possum-wood (Quintinia Sieberi); coach-wood (Ceratopetalum apetalum); rose-wood (Synoum glandulosum); beef-wood (Stenocarpus salignus); water gum (Tristania neriifolia); blue ash (Etæodendron australe); feather-wood (Polyosma Cunninghamii); scrub myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia); turnip-wood or pencil-cedar (Dysoxylon Muelleri); nettle-tree or stinging-tree (Photinia spp.) ; bangalow (Ptychosperma elegans); cabbagetree palm (Livistona australis); broad-leaf tea-tree (Melaleuca leucadendron); scrub myrtle, strong-scented, small leaf (Myrtus rhytisperma); lillypilly (Eugenia Smithii); black bean (Castanospermum australe); cooloon or blue fig (Eleocarpus grandis); marara (Ackama and Weinmannia); tamarind (Diploglottis Cunninghamii).
For the names of the Eucalypts see December Gazette.