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Naming the Giants

Photo 1

John Hickey and Leigh Oates measure giants.

­Photo 2

Members of the naming expedition.

Tasmania is renown for its g­iant eucalypt trees. While most of these giants are euc­alypts of the ash group (Eucalyptus regnans and E. obliqua), the last few years have seen four giant blue gums, E. globulus, added to the list of giants. In fact one of these trees, while only 82 m high is now the most massive of all giants with a stem volume of 368 cubic metres. This tree may well be one of the largest known hardwood trees in the world (there are larger softwood trees in North America) so it is really something very special. In Tasmania, ‘giant trees’ are defined to include all those trees which are at least 85 m tall or 280 cubic metres in volume.  There is a long tradition of naming these giants and the forests are scattered with trees with names such as Icarus Dream, Mount Tree, Damocles and Medusa.  The responsibility for maintaining a register of information and names on these giant trees rests with the Giant Trees Consultative Committee, a body established by Forestry Tasmania to provide independent advice on the protection, management and promotion of giant trees.  Eucalyptus globulus is the floral emblem of Tasmania, and the Giant Tree Consultative Committee is encouraging the allocation of Aboriginal names for giant blue gums.

To provide inspiration for these names, members of the Giant Tree Consultative Committee (John Hickey [FT] and Brad Potts [UTAS]), headed into Tasmania’s southern forests with a representative of the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (Leigh Oates), a group of Aboriginal students and their teacher (Pat Lee) from St James School, Cygnet, who will explore options for Aboriginal names for these giant blue gums.

Photo top left: John Hickey watches while Leigh Oates use a laser sighter to measure the height of a giant Eucalyptus globulus (26th August 2008).

Photo bottom left: Members of the naming expedition at the base of the most massive Eucalyptus globulus.  The tree has a diameter at breast height of 5.54 m and height of 82 m (26th August). Currently the tallest known E. globulus stands at 91 m and the tallest flowering plant is a E. regnans tree at 101 m. The latter was discovered in October 2008 and also lives in the southern forests.