Ian Brown

Rainbow Bark

  • Ian Brown| Rainbow Bark

Every region has its striking trees. Surely the common old Scribbly Gum is a botanical treasure to rival the Wollemi Pine?

such a great character of the Australian bush, with its gnarled trunk, twisting branches and pastel-streaked bark reflecting the ambient light. On high sandstone ridges of the Blue Mountains, they glow orange in the sunset and on misty days stand alone against the fog. They can be hundreds of years old, withstanding fire after fire until their muscular trunks are reduced to a hollowed-out shell of charred wood, apparently dead but for a few strands of living bark.

The endlessly decorative scribbles on Hard-leaved Scribbly Gums (Eucalyptus sclerophylla) are caused by the larvae (grub) of a moth, burrowing and feeding beneath the bark. This species carries the fabulous scientific name of Ogmograptus scribula. As the old bark progressively peels off (which happens every summer), the scribbles become exposed on the surface.