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The broad-leaved paperbark is an Australian native evergreen tree. It can grow to a height of 25 metres and a spread of 5 metres or more, and has characteristic papery bark. Distribution is along the east coast of Queensland and New South Wales, plus it is found in New Guinea and New Caledonia. Flowers appear as short bottlebrush spikes, creamy white in colour and 50 mm long, and provide a rich source of nectar for lorikeets, honey eaters, flying foxes and butterflies, and its leaves are also a food source for koalas. Main flowering is in autumn. The trees also resprout vigorously from epicormic shoots after bushfire, and have been recorded flowering within weeks of being burnt. Trees can live for over 100 years. In Australia, Melaleuca is the third most diverse plant genus with up to 250 species.
In Australia, Melaleuca quinquenervia occurs along the east coast, ranging from Cape York in far north Queensland to Sydney in the south. It grows in seasonally inundated plains and swamps, along estuary margins and coastal lakes and lagoons, and is often the dominant species. It grows in silty or swampy soil and plants have grown in acid soil of pH as low as 2.5. This spotting was located on the shores of Avoca Lake, at Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast.
Paperbarks are quite amazing trees. The bark has the most amazing texture and is quite spongy to touch, and the flowers attract all sorts of wildlife. The wikipedia link also provides loads of information on the various uses of this species, particularly by aboriginal Australians. Paperbarks are dotted all around the shores of Avoca Lake, as well as every other lagoon in the Central Coast region. Avoca Lake is an intermediate saline coastal lagoon that is fed by stormwater runoff from the surrounding hills, as well as being occasionally opened at the beach which separates it from the sea. This allows salt water to enter into and flush the lagoon, which means that Melaleuca quinquenervia is a salt-tolerant species (plus it's drought-tolerant as well). It's unphased by a full saltwater environment, although freshwater from a catchment area of 10.8 km2 would eventually dilute salt levels until the lagoon is once again opened to the sea. NB: I refer to this body of water as a "lagoon" because that is what it is - a stretch of salt water separated from the sea by a low sandbank or coral reef. The average depth is less than 0.4 metres (surface area 70 hectares), and until fairly recently was called Avoca Lagoon, and prior to that, Bulbararing Lagoon. Some bright spark in the council office needs to brush up on basic geography, and realtors should pull their collective heads in too. A lagoon is no-less glamourous than a lake.
Spotted on Mar 24, 2019
Submitted on Mar 31, 2019
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