Folks who wander regularly in the local bush will immediately recognise these rounded blue-green leaves – they belong to Red Box Eucalyptus polyanthemos.
While Red Box remains a common tree species locally, veteran specimens are exceedingly rare, more so in my experience than any other. Red Box timber is prized for its strength, hardness and durability – sealing its fate to fence-posts, building material (including bridge-decking) and of course, firewood. The specimens remaining in the forest today are either spindly saplings, or as in this case, coppice-regrowth. It’s anyone’s guess as to the age of this Red Box – the remains of a massive stump from which the coppice stems have sprouted was nearly 1.5 metres across!
The decline of large old trees is one of the key reasons for the disappearance of many iconic woodland birds – Regent Honeyeater and Grey-crowned Babbler would have been common in the local bush when this Red Box was a sapling. Not all is gone – I was cheered by the sight of a pair of Scarlet Robins looking dazzling in the dry bush on a gloomy afternoon.