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willow alternatives

Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:34 pm
by nik
Would anyone have any other plant species recommendations for plants that will do the same functions as willows for the northern rivers area. the willows that grow on my place don't seem to do very well (too hot?). Or should I be looking for a particular species of willow? Or would they be suffering because they aren't next to flowing water?

A prominent weed that helps stablise our banks is Bat Coral Tree but the blasted weed managements up here keep rounding them up as it were.

Look forward to any replies


Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:19 pm
by duane
Hi Nik

Welcome to the NSF Forum....always good to see somebody else's name on the board.

A native that you could trial in your area is white cedar, Melia azedarach. Reportedly grown from the Nepean in Sydney to the wet tropics.

Easily grown from seed it is related to Toona australis (Red cedar) and was reportedly found lining the banks of the Nepean River.

I know someone who has collected seed--if you wish to trial some.

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:25 pm
by nik
Hi Duane

An excellent suggestion. Quick growing tree too. I would be interested in getting seeds.

many thanks


Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:13 am
by duane
White cedar seeds should be on their way to you soon.

Ron Bastion, who is sending them, said they germinate easily but need protection from rabbits in their early growing stages.

Keep us informed Nik of your could be very relevant to the willows issue.

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:44 am
by nik
Looking forward to it. Will keep you posted


Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:23 pm
by Shirley Henderson
A word of caution about White Cedar. Those things drive me mad. They spread like crazy taking over everywhere. Although I live in
south East Australia you may not have this problem. Birds like currawongs spread them here and I am sure many of the other larger birds eat them They shade out whole areas and constantly pop up from seed everywhere. They may have qualities that your require immediately but please do your research and consider the future of your area also.
This is my experience and depending where you live it may be a different situation. Also I have been informed they are poisonous to dogs, pigs and children. Again I am not 100% on that. Just do your own reserarch.

Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 7:26 pm
by nik
white cedar grows naturally in this area so it shouldn't be a problem. thanks for your warning.

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:45 pm
by duane
"According to Les Robinsons' book Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney, White Cedars are only supposed to grow 3 - 8 metres high. He reckons that the early settlers probably favoured it because it reminded them of the trees in england because it it deciduous and made them nostalgic, however, I figured that, as it favoued growing along the riparian zones it possibly escaped most of the early frequent bushfires and the seed was propogated along the river banks when birds carrying the seed came to drink.
I find the seeds in our bird bath almost every day left by the Currawongs. I didn't mention another favourable aspect of this tree which should favour Peter, it is deciduous and I "gather" the leaves every year and make fantastic mulch from it. It does everything a willow does and more.".....Ron Bastion

I checked the distribution of these and it ranges from the Nepean near Sydney all the way to the wet tropics. It was supposedly lining the riparian zones all along the Nepean at early settlement and maybe its fast growing habit is a GOOD thing.

In Francis's "Rain Forest Trees of Australia" it has records of it growing to 150ft.

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:20 am
by Shirley Henderson
I will keep an open mind on that.

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:25 am
by duane
The fact that these white cedars are spreading rapidly should indicate a few things
As Haikai Tane quotes in his piece on biodiversity and willows "Nature does not do things needlessly"

If these plants were common as riparian plants they are colonising rapidly to RESTORE lost functionality.....the system has broken down and under threat and Nature is trying to repair it with the best and fastest plants available.

We need to understand this important rule in Nature....after all Nature always does a better job than we humans....its just that we think we can do it better.

If Peter saw the position the white cedars were doing in your area he would be very happy....and I think Shirley you may be onto something very important here....maybe more so than you realise!!

The fact that they spread like crazy and take over may be a GOOD thing.....perhaps rather than removing them you could conduct a trial or an experiment. Let them go and do their thing and watch the results: do they provide riparian protection; do they prevent erosion etc etc

WE NEED AS MANY GREEN AND GROWING THINGS AS WE CAN.....and the quicker and faster these plants grow the quicker the recovery period is.

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:04 am
by duane
There is an important message contained in Dr Mary Whites work which I think most of us fail to grasp and understand.

The co-evolution of Australias plants and animals took place in the absence of hard hooved animals.

The plants that evolved here co existed and flourished with the animals that followed.

When we introduced over 200 exotic species of animals into this country the vegetation which had evolved without these animals, took a HAMMERING.

Flocks of sheep sometimes 20,000 to 100,000 chewed their way through plants which they found were very edible but which the native animals found were inedible.

And together with our clearing for agriculture and settlement and burning we have lost>95% of our vegetation since settlement.

And we are still trying to conduct farming and agriculture. Our plants could'nt cope then in the last 200 years they will NOT be able to cope in the next 200 years if we wish to keep conducting our present agricuture.

Our landscape has changed will never go back to what it was>>>>NEVER!!!!!

If we all left tomorrow and took all of the exotic animals with us we would come back in a 1000 or 10,000 years to a very different landscape. One in balance with new spp possibly, one with decidous trees growing where only eucalypts and acacias once grew and perhaps the reappearnce of a whole range of natives we thought we had lost.

But one things for sure, we would not come back to a landscape that looked and was identical to how it looked and was in 1788!!

Posted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:37 am
by duane
Good news....Shirley H has found some amazingly good news on Melias.
Hopefully she will post it here soon.

Posted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:48 am
by nik
Looking forward to hearing it. The seeds that Ron kindly sent me are planted in seed raising mix, so hopefully I will be seeing some popping their heads up soon.


Melia azedarach

Posted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:13 pm
by Shirley Henderson
Hello again, thanks to the interest in Melia azedarach I decided to do some further research. It turns out the Melia azedarach, White Cedar or Cape Lilac as it is sometimes called has some qualities that would be highly saught after by anyone looking to improve their soil conditions. It grows easiliy from seeds, colonises super fast and has even more than that! I have found some amazing information. Melia has the ability to correct acid soils badly affected by low pH and fertility. It can raise soil pH! This information was found on the internet CSIRO site. This is fantastic news.. Also it is reported to be a fire retardant plant which means it can slow down fire and reduce radiant heat. Another interesting fact is that it supports the life of a the native White Cedar Moth (more biodiversity) and the tree is accepted as Native to Austrralia. I have been sadly working against this plant that has so much to offer. I will now accept it whole heartedly and watch and learn from now on.
I am going to post some photos if I can.

Posted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:16 pm
by Shirley Henderson