Protecting Moonah Trees Geelong, Surfcoast & Bellarine

May 15, 2020

Protecting Moonah Trees

( Melaleuca lanceolata )

Bees love the Moonah Tree in full flower

 

 Moonahs are Iconic Trees

Moonah trees are Iconic and grow naturally along the Coastal dunes and nearby Grasslands extending approximately 5 kilometres inland.

 

Some of the Moonah Trees around the Geelong Coast and Surf Coast have been aged at over 300 years.

Many Moonah Trees have been mapped and or tagged as they are a Significant Endangered and Protected Tree.

These trees have a long connection with the Heritage of our Coastal woodlands, and the Ancient history of Aboriginal people.

Since the settlement of Europeans much of the woodlands have been destroyed, leaving less than 7% of now pockets of Moonah Woodlands throughout Victoria.

 

Natural Companions for  Moonah Trees

Natural companions for the Moonah are helpful, they stabilise the sand and soil with their roots, provide habitat and food for Wildlife and build a natural mulch with their leaf litter.

 Some Local wildlife that benefit from the Moonah Woodlands

Birds    Native bees     Lizards    Ringtail Possom     Small Bats       Echidna

 

Moonah companion plants on the endangered species list include

Poa poiformis   common name Trailing Coast Poa

Acacia uncifolia common name Wirilda Wattle

Adriana quadripartita  common name Coast Bitter Bush.

 

 Destruction Of  Our Natural Environment

For whatever reason Some Humans believe that they have the right to destroy the Natural environment.

Through lack of knowledge, others do it without the understanding of the consequences of their actions, which in turn could lead to disharmonising the Balance of Nature.

Plants that grow naturally in our own back yard have been fighting a battle to keep their Plant Communities in balance, competing against noxious weeds, grasses, climbers, shrubs and trees that have been brought into our local Coastal areas .

It has become difficult to eradicate the problem plants. Most of the weed species have been brought in from Overseas, a few come in on the the bottom of ships, like sea spurge that has naturalised itself on our beashes.

Native plants from other parts of Australia have also become a terrible problem in our natural plant communities. Plant Nurseries continue to sell species that are not beneficial in our local sensitive environment.

 

Help fight the Battle

If you want to reconstruct or create a new garden where Moonah Trees are growing, it is important to know what should be growing with the Moonah Trees and what needs to go. Some of the ground cover scrambling plants that grow naturally with the Moonah Trees are often mistaken for weeds and get completely removed and discarded by Property owners.

 Three Moonah companions that get mistaken for weed plants

Rhagodia candolleana

Rhagodia candolleana

Clematis microphylla

Tetragonia implexicoma

 

Living in this Beautiful part of the World

We chose to live in this beautiful part of the World, why ruin it?

Nature makes no apologies for growing plants in community groups.

The answer is work with nature not against it, once you have the knowledge that a plant is meant to be growing where it is, clip and trim if you have to, but do not discard it. It has a purpose.

The natural climbers and ground covers in the Moonah Woodland

Rhagodia candolleana  and Tetragonia implexicom seem to drive some people crazy as they have a habit of spreading and scrambling so you can’t get into the garden. Solution is to trim it back just enough so as to make narrow pathways through the trees and undergrowth, that way you do not disturb any wildlife that may be using it as habitat.

Rhagodia candolleana and Tetragonia implexicoma have edible berries  with the bonus of being fire retardant plants.

Clematis microphylla is also a useful plant,  Aboriginals used it for both relieving headaches by inhaling crushed leaves, the roots were cooked and ground to make dough.

 

The  invasive weed climbers seen in Moonah Woodlands

 

Asparagus asparagoides

Bridal Creeper, Origin Africa

Billardiera heterophylla

Bluebell creeper

Origin Western Australia

Delairea odorata  

Cape ivy

Origin Africa

Dipogon lignosus

Dolichos Pea vine

(Mile a minute plant)

Flowers purple, pink or white

Origin Africa

 

Other Weedy plants found in Moonah Woodlands

 

Chrysanthemoides monilifera

Boneseed

origin Africa

 

Coprosma repens

Mirror bush

Origin New Zealand

 

Polygala myrtlifolia

Milkwood

Origin Africa

 

Rhamnus alaternus

Buckthorn

Origin Europe Asia Africa

Exotic  grasses are also problem weeds in natural woodland

 

 

Get Knowledgeable about the plants that are local to your area

Get knowledgeable about the plants that are problematic in your local area. Before you start ripping plants out of your existing Garden, invite an expert on local plants to come and assess your garden, that way you may avoid removing plants that are meant to be there.

 

Two other issues with creating new gardens around existing Moonah Trees 

1: No mulch should be put around or under the Moonah trees.

Not only is it likely to contain weed seeds, it changes the composition of the soil and retards the germination of Moonah seeds and the other plants that grow in the Moonah Woodlands.

2: Do not remove fallen branches from the Woodland.

They create habitat for wildlife and decompose to make natural mulch over time. If you do need to cut a branch because is overhanging a house , shed or pathway with the risk of damaging Human life or structures, do it in a manner that is considerate to the Woodland and leave it near the tree it came off.

 

Plant the Correct Ground Covers

By planting the correct groundcovers it will not be long until there is no need for mulch and your garden will be happy and thriving with life.

 

 Natural Moonah woodland plants that are easily obtainable

Acacia uncifolia common name Coast Wirilda Wattle

Leptospermum laevigatum common name Coast tea-tree **

Leucopogon parviflorus common name Coast Beard-Heath

Dianella brevicaulis common name Small flower flax lily

Poa poiformis common name Coastal Tussock Grass

Clematis microphylla

Rhagodia candolleana

Tretragonia implexicoma

 

Another plant that will grow in an undisturbed Moonah Woodland is native moss. Through the cooler months it will become rich and green, browning off in sunny spots through Summer.

 

Where to buy Local Indigenous plants for Moonah woodlands

Around Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast there are Community Nurseries that collect local seed from plants that are natural to their area, The community Nurseries supply plants as tubestocks, wich are young plants.  There is variation in plants from different areas, it is good to get the ones that are genuine to your location which have not been bred or hybridised.

Geelong Native Plants collects young plants from Community Nurseries in each area around the Geelong and Surf Coast, and can group together Plant Communities from these areas.

Most of these plants are available in a range of pot sizes

Rule of thumb is if a plant grows naturally within a 30 kms radius of where you want to plant it, that plant is called a Provenance species. Our local indigenous plants have different characteristics to the same species growing 50kms away as the crow flies.

 

Leptospermum laevigatum common name Coast tea-tree **

Leptospermum laevigatum has been classified as a problem plant in some areas of the Coast where Moonah trees grow in Woodland communities.

It can create a canopy that competes with Moonah Trees for Sun and also prevents germination of Moonah and other species.

Leptospermum laevigatum have an abundant amount of  flowers in Spring that are ravaged by bees making it an important plant in honey production.

Even thought they can grow into tree up to about 5m , they make wonderful Bonsai specimens.