Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Weird and Wonderful: The Technicolor tree

Tom Stubbs

Believe it or not, this isn't the work of an artist. This is the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus deglupta), famous for its exceptional colour making it look like something from Narnia. The tree is truly a living dynamic piece of natural art, but how does it get this bizarre appearance? Unlike most trees we are familiar with that have thick ‘corky’ bark, the Rainbow Eucalyptus has smooth and thin bark. It frequently exfoliates these thin layers. As the newly exposed bark ages slowly it changes colour, beginning with bright green and darker green, then bluish to purplish, then pink and orange, before it finally reaches a brownish maroon and falls off. These individual slices of bark are constantly changing at different rates meaning the tree is always changing colour and there is always a great range of colours. For obvious reasons the Rainbow Eucalyptus is a very popular ornamental plant, although it originates from the rainforests of Mindanao (Philippines). While we are on the topic of colour, check out this amazing little moth, the Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda) from North America, how cute.