Monday, January 18, 2010

How the bush recovers - the Grampians four years on

Over the Christmas break I spent some time in the Grampians which had a major bushfire in 2006. The interesting thing is that most of the tourists there didn't seem to notice that the bush was still in recovery mode. It was obvious if you looked that there had been a major bushfire in the past but overall it looked like it had largely recovered and was "normal".

The bush around Flowerdale is nearly one year into recovery and the "epicormic" growth, that is the buds and leaves that are growing up the whole tree, is in full swing.

According to Wikipedia "Epicormic buds lie dormant beneath the bark, their growth suppressed by hormones from active shoots higher up the plant." I also borrowed the following explanation from Cain Doherty's blog "If a fire is intense enough to remove all the leaves, the hormonal influence disappears triggering the epicormic buds to sprout thereby covering the entire tree in a new gown of leaves and branches. In a severe fire, the crown may be detroyed and even the epicormic buds on the smaller branches may be killed so the plant can only recover from the epicormic buds present on the main trunk."

It is interesting to compare the shots above with the ones below that I took in the Grampians to get a feel for how things will look in a few years.

As you can see there is still a lot of growth on the lower parts of the trees but as they recover at the top of the tree the epicormic growth begins to subside and the bush gets back to normal.

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