Rainforest Fruits And Flowers Flourish

Skyrail Nature Diary: April 2005

Australia’s Tropical Rainforests have responded to the wet and humid conditions of the past two months with an exquisite array of flowers and fruits. In particular, the flowering Rose Alder and Black Wattle are splashing colour throughout the canopy, whilst the Leichhardt Trees are heavy with fruit.

The eye-catching fruit of the Leichhardt Tree (Nauclea orientalis) has burst into abundance this month, particularly around the lake at Skyrail’s Smithfield Terminal. The golf ball-sized fruit is yellow with white flowers, and offers a bitter-tasting flesh when peeled. Commonly known as Canary Wood, the Leichhardt Tree was used by the Aborigines for making canoes, medicine and fish poisons.

The Rose Alder (Caldcluvia australiensis), one of the most primitive trees in the rainforest, is currently showcasing its wool-like white flowers. They are visible right throughout the rainforest canopy before they gradually turn red as the fruit develops.

This tree has a unique way of surviving in the rainforest soil; it often sneaks its roots into the Orania Palms’ (Oraniopsis appendiculata) basket-like crown, stealing nutrients from composting leaf litter to survive.

Finally, the Black Wattle (Acacia aulacocarpa) is also in flower this month, with its striking, bright yellow flowers on show all the way up to the canopy. These flowers will soon be replaced by the Wattle’s wooden seed pods which will burst open to reveal a cache of small black seeds.

These seeds are attached to the pod with strings of reddish/yellow flesh; a popular food source with ants, who in turn help to spread the seeds throughout the rainforest.

There are over 900 different types of Wattle, making it the biggest species in Australia. The presence of Wattle in the rainforest is an indicator of prior logging, explaining the frequency of the plant along ridges between Skyrail’s Red Peak and Barron Falls stations.

Many of the flowers and fruits of Australia’s Tropical Rainforests are only visible from above the tree canopy, so the best way to see them is on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Skyrail will take you on a 7.5km journey over the canopy and deep into the forest, with two rainforest mid-stations providing the opportunity to explore this unique environment from the forest floor.