10 Aussie Facts - Flora
Because Australia is an island and as such is geographically isolated from the rest of the world, our flora is considered the most unique and diverse on the planet. Australia boasts approximately 24,000 native plant species. Eucalyptus (commonly referred to as Gum Trees) are the most well known of all the trees in Australia. They are referred to as Gum Trees because the majority of these native trees tend to ooze a gooey sap from the bark, which indigenous Australians used as a glue or gum. Spinifex is a grass unique to Australia and occurs in over 20% of the mainland of Australia. It does not exist in Tasmania. Australia has many tall trees, but the tallest of the mall is the Giant Tuart, Karri and Rich Red Jarrah which are found in the Valley of the Giants in WA. These trees have been known to live up to 500 years. Even though Australia is mostly a desert island, in the springtime wildflowers cover the desert sands with vibrant flowers that seem to grow from nowhere. In our Alpine regions wildflowers will show their flowers in the summer months, in what normally looks like a desert alpine region. Australia has the worst stinging plant in the world and is aptly named Stinging Plant. This plant is found in rainforests and forested areas. These trees play an important part in the ecology of the rainforest as the fauna is not affected by the sting, and the stinging plant has delicious fruit and leaves. For humans the stinging tree delivers a very vicious sting that is delivered through tiny silicon hairs on the leaves and fruit. These hairs penetrate skin and break off, making it almost impossible to remove the stinging hairs. The sting is via a neutoxin that can remain in the skin for many hours. Bushfires are part of life in Australia and many plant species native to Australia rely heavily on fire to scatter their seeds. As the raging fires occur mainly in the summer months, and can have a destructive result in forests for fauna, the fires can actually regenerate the forest and are considered essential to the proper growth of our forests. Vegetation covers nearly 7 million square kilometres or 91 percent of Australia. Australia boasts a number of unique “living fossil plants” such as the Wollemi Pine and a grass tree have remained unchanged from when the dinosaurs roamed Australia.
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