Tag Archives: E Sideroxylon

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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Ironbark experiments: E Corynodes

On the weekend, I went to a fete at Black Forest Primary School.  They had a sensational community garden, complete with a sale of silkworms, 5 for a dollar!  Who could resist?  Clearly not me (you guessed), so there are 5 silkworms in the lounge munching through mulberry leaves.  More on that later.

While my posse of friends and my house guests from Denmark were hitching up their bikes, I took a sample of the tree right at the dead end of Kertaweeta Ave Black Forest where we entered the school grounds, with the help of a taller friend.  Excuse the extra good photo….

This tree had smooth, pale bark in some of the finer upper branches.

I don’t know why, but I do not entirely trust the result that Euclid and I produced: E Corynodes.  Poor Euclid, depending on me.  There were no mature fruits, buds or flowers to consider, and that makes the result less dependable and the chance of detecting an error smaller. Euclid suggests E Corynodes can be confused with several other species, but look at this account of how to tell them apart!

E. fibrosa subsp. fibrosa, E. fibrosa subsp. nubila, E. melanophloia and E. rhombica … differ in having buds with stamens all fertile and irregularly flexed.  E. sideroxylon differs by having buds that hold the outer operculum into maturity and both the inner and outer operculum shed together at anthesis (no operculum scar).

So that would be obvious, then!  Based on this I wonder how I can be sure this is not E Sideroxylon, which would give orange too…  Because whatever its true name, this is the result I got.

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Eucalyptus Torquata: Leaf Prints and Modifiers

Remember my modifier experiment?  I have two jars of wonder, based on Jenny Dean’s instructions.  One contains offcuts of copper pipe from my Dad, vinegar and water.  It’s been steeping for months.  My first effort at iron water didn’t work out as I’d hoped, more like a science experiment!  This one is based on my friend’s collecton of bent nails.  He has been turning pallets into furniture, so he has removed a lot of nails.  They got left out in the rain and, bless him!  He thought of me.  Here they are, left to right:

Mystery Science Experiment, Rusty Nail Water, Copper Pipe Water.

Here are my E Torquata samples on hand spun wool and commercial wool/hemp blend:
Unmodified at the top, Iron modifier next, Copper modifier at the bottom.  I have to admit, this isn’t a deeply exciting result.

And here are my E Torquata leaf prints on recycled linen (the darker one was the side against the cast iron pipe):

Here are the prints from my ‘is it E Scoparia?’ experiment.  The answer is a tentative ‘yes!’  Recycled linen on the left, recycled silk on the right.  I included the very young, soft, green foliage you can see printed toward the bottom partly because I have been asked whether it is true you need to use young foliage to get good leaf prints.  My experience is that you don’t (though of course, you can).

Finally… a gratuitous photo of an E Torquata flowering very pinkly in a car park in my place of work.  One of my co-workers came out of the building to see me with a pile of papers in one hand and my phone in the other, and said: ‘What are you doing, Mary?’  As you would, really.

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Eucalyptus Sideroxylon dye pot

I went into the city to hear a presentation the other week, and on the way back there were so many opportunities to harvest that I couldn’t help but pull my bike over and pick some E Sideroxylon (Red Ironbark) leaves.  Yes, I did get a few looks… but I am reasonably impervious!

I picked a little on the main road out of the city beside the parklands, and a little more as I turned off onto my bike path.  As I exited the bike path, there was a big branch lying underneath a nice specimen near the tram line.  I have dyed from that specific tree before and the leaves were already dry.  I went back for more later.  So here is what I could get home on my bike rack, with my drum carder beside it for scale:

And here are some of the flowers.  There is one of these trees in full bloom next door to my house and there are lorikeets and honeyeaters feasting on these flowers in next door’s back yard calling to each other all day long at the moment.  I love it.

I decided to continue with the dye bath from earlier that week (the one in the post from September 18) rather than using fresh water.  The wool I dyed in the previous incarnation of the dye bath was not a really impressive colour, so it has returned to the pot and I’ve added a little more.  When I strained out the leaves and bark from the last pot, the water was a deep wine red.  This is unusual and I wonder if it is a result of leaving iron pipe in that bath–but if it is, I can’t figure out why the wool in that dye bath was still orange and tan.  The mystery continues…

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Neighbourhood dye plant for this week

This is another of my favourite dye plants, and another Eucalypt that is as-yet-identified.  It has very fine leaves and a lovely weeping habit. I’ve used it to create tablecloths with leaf prints cascading across them.

For much of the year the trunk is white to grey, and then as it enters the period of the year when it sheds its bark, pinks and reds begin to appear. It looks like I’ll be visiting again soon to collect bark.

When I visited today there were several generations of fruit as well as white flowers on the tree. I had a very funny visit to this tree last year.  I pulled over on my bike and was harvesting when people pulled up in the driveway next to it.  I greeted them, since there was no way to pretend this wasn’t happening.  They were glad I was trimming the tree and explained that they thought the council should be pruning it more diligently.  I offered to come back and prevent it hanging over the footpath and they were enthusiastic, so I came back with a friend, secateurs, a chook food sack and a milk crate a few days later.  Very funny!  There was I being selective and taking little… until we went back and took a sackful of leaves, which have lasted through the winter.

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