Robert Powell: Tree Pictures, South-Western Australia

Yate (Eucalyptus cornuta)

Unlike the other tree species depicted on this website, yate does not occur naturally in Perth. It is found in the far south of Western Australia, from Geographe Bay to east of Esperance, growing near the coast and further inland, often in river valleys or on other fertile sites.

Its main inland occurrence is between Manjimup and the Porongurup Range. Here it attains its maximum development, displaying an often impressive vigour and an exceptional elegance.

Another feature is yate’s readiness to sprout additional stems from its trunk or its lignotuber. This habit is quite common in many of the smaller eucalypts, such as limestone marlock, but is unusual for a tree species the size of yate. Yate’s new stems are strong and vigorous — but whereas vigorous stems often grow up vertically, those of yate typically spread to seek light and space. By this means, yate can expand outwards very effectively to take advantage of an increase in space, as has happened with many trees on farms when the surrounding land was cleared. By thus increasing their biomass, these trees also produce many more seeds. That may be of no advantage in grazed paddocks, but of course in more natural surroundings it greatly enhances the tree’s ability to produce seedlings.

Nearly all the pictures show trees in the inland part of yate’s range. Starting from a spot on the Perup River about 35 kilometres east-south-east of Manjimup, they progress roughly eastwards, and include specimens round Frankland, Mount Barker and the Porongurup Range. The last picture is much further east, and much closer to the coast, near Bremer Bay.

Of the pictures in black and white, I took some in 1992 on black-and-white film; others are quite recent colour digital pictures that I have had converted to black and white. Seen this way, yate trees can make quite splendid subjects. With their darkish foliage, specimens in paddocks can stand out boldly from the much paler tones of their surrounds. Moreover, it is without the distraction of colour that the wonderful structures, textures, patterns and details of these often exquisite trees can be seen to best advantage.

© Text and photographs: Robert Powell

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