Following a recent study, eucalypt trees are being described as the ideal Australians – versatile, tough, sardonic and self-mocking. Experts found that these distinctly Australian qualities are what give the native trees the ability to thrive in the harsh local climates.
The research examined 28 tree species from across Australia, finding key differences lying in the diameter of their water-conducting vessels. Tree species exposed to dry conditions were found to have very different physical properties to those exposed to cooler, wetter conditions.
“Surprisingly, we found that all species have a mixture of vessel sizes, which helps them cope with both drought and flooding rains,” says study lead, Dr Sebastian Pfautsch.
Eucalypt trees have been forced to evolve over long periods of time to best cope with the vast range of environmental conditions in which they grow. They have achieved the perfect balance between transporting water to their crowns and maintaining hydration – giving them a toughness and complexity that explains why they are so prevalent in Australia.
These findings challenge existing theories that suggest vessel structure is determined by tree height, indicating instead that it has been an evolutionary journey.
Read more here: Western Sydney University.