Let the ironbark identification and dyeing experiments begin!

This tree is growing on the tram route in Goodwood.  It is clearly an ironbark, but I am less certain it is E Sideroxylon, and thus, I chose to investigate further… There are three ironbarks in a little cluster at this spot.  I think one of them is the same species and the other is so tall and branches so many metres above the ground that I may never know.

Here is the key feature of an ironbark: deeply furrowed bark which is impregnated with a sticky saplike substance (kino) which the tree produces in an effort to fend off attack by insects.

Here, more of a sense of the whole tree.  It is a very tall tree… and while the trunk might be secure from predatory borers, the leaves showed penty of signs of lerp and caterpillar attack.

The upper branches were paler, more of a cream colour, and covered in smooth bark which had begun to shed.  We had a very overcast day, but sometimes a natural dyer can’t wait!

The leaves smelled rather lovely while cooking.  I didn’t imagine when I set out on this dyeing path that cooking eucalyptus leaves smelled different, except in the obvious case of ‘lemon scented’!  They do though.  Some smell quite spicy and some smell like classic Eucalyptus oil.  E Crenulata was so overpowering it was voted out of the house for all future time.

As for identifying features, I collected plenty of leaves but could not reach any mature fruit.  Since this tree is growing among others that may not be the same species, picking fruit up from the ground sometimes just confuses the picture.  There were no visible buds or flowers–so, there are some limitations on identification.  Just the same, this tree appeared to bear fruit in pairs and threes (and not the classic 7 flower umbel of E Sideroxylon).  Tentatively, Euclid, hampered by my inadequacies in providing accurate observations, and the limitations in the data available, gives me E Tricarpa.

Here is the outcome of my dye sample (hemp/wool blend on the left and and wool on the right on each sample card).  E Citriodora on the left and E Tricarpa (tentatively identified) on the right… equally unexciting to my way of thinking.

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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Natural dyeing, Uncategorized

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