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Friday Eco-fact: Australia’s Amazing Karri Trees

There is no country on Earth with more species of eucalyptus trees then Australia. Depending on climatic conditions across the continent the species of eucalyptus trees can change dramatically. For example in the state of Victoria the climatic conditions are such that eucalyptus trees have grown to such proportions that the mountain ash is considered the world’s largest flowering plant:

Mountain ash tree in the Otway Ranges.

Likewise in southwestern Australia the moist climatic conditions combined with the nutrient rich soil have allowed the regions eucalyptus trees to evolve to become one of the largest species of trees on Earth as well:

The trees do not grow as tall as the mountain ash trees in Victoria but they do still grow to an enormous height of 90 meters. These trees are called karri trees after the Aboriginal word for these massive trees. These trees as mentioned earlier are only found in southwestern Australia:

The tree has smooth silvery bark and a straight trunk that has an inner wood colored a reddish brown. The karri tree sheds its bark every year leading to multi-colored trunk. The leaves of the tree are a dark green on the upper reaches of the tree and the darkness of the green lightens on the lower leaves of the tree. The tree also produces barrel shaped fruit.

The karri tree reaches its maximum height in little as 100 years which is extremely fast for a tree to grow up to 90 meters. The trees live up to 300 years old with most of the larger karri trees remaining in southwestern Australia being about only 200 years old. This is due to the heavy logging of the tree in prior decades which caused a steep decline in the number of karri trees. Logging of the karri trees continues today under controlled conditions with much of the old growth trees protected in the various national parks in Australia’s southwest.

Area of logged karri trees with one tree remaining as a fire lookout.

The best place to views these beautiful trees are in Walpole-Nornalup National Park and in particular the Tree Top Walk:

The Tree Top Walk is raised platform that allows visitors to literally walk on top of the trees located in the park. Adjacent to the tree top walk is The Ancient Empire which is the best place in the national park to appreciate these fabulous karri trees from the ground:

A really unique thing you can do in southwest Australia is that you can actually climb up one of these karri trees:

The Gloucester Tree outside of Pemberton is a fire lookout tower that allows visitors to climb up its metal pegs to the top of this 61 meter tree. Highly recommended but don’t climb it if you are afraid of heights:

The Australian karri trees are truly impressive and just another example of how incredible a species of tree the eucalyptus is.