Cheese and wine be­side the river

The Daily Examiner - - NEWS ENVIRONMENT - Bar­bara Fa­hey

ON many fine evenings Him­self and I sit be­side the river with a glass of red in hand and a choice of cheese. With the sun set­ting over the rain­for­est on Su­san Is­land and the sky and the river light­ing up a kalei­do­scope of colour, it seems that God's in Heaven and all's right with the world. This lat­ter feel­ing lasts un­til we turn on the evening news when doom and gloom leap out from the tele­vi­sion.

So much for cheese and wine.

Cheese comes for the birds and but­ter­flies too in the form of the Cheese Tree (Glochid­ion fer­di­nandi). This is a small tree with a bushy spread­ing crown, com­mon along shel­tered stream banks and on rain for­est mar­gins from Tuross Head near Moruya in NSW to Hinch­in­brook Is­land, Qld.

Lo­cally it has been recorded at Kan­ga­roo Creek, Ramornie, Mount Pikapene and Iluka Na­ture Re­serve. It is named 'fer­di­nandi' af­ter Fer­di­nand von Mueller, one of the great­est Aus­tralian col­lec­tors and botanists.

The trunk of the Cheese Tree is of­ten crooked and flanged with the outer bark brown­ish-pur­ple and fis­sured. Leaves are smooth and green on both sur­faces with the up­per sur­face glossy and ta­per­ing to a point at the tip.

Its in­signif­i­cant flow­ers are green­ish yel­low with the male flow­ers of­ten clus­tered into threes, fe­male flow­ers sin­gle. Flow­er­ing pe­riod is mainly Oc­to­ber.

The fruit, a small cap­sule which is hair­less, green turn­ing red, and slightly fur­rowed, re­sem­bles a minia­ture cheese, hence its com­mon name. Fruit is ripe mainly Novem­ber to Fe­bru­ary and is pop­u­lar with many birds in­clud­ing Fig­bird, Lewin's Honeyeater, Olive-backed Ori­ole, White-headed Pi­geon, and Brown Cuckoo-Dove. It also serves as food for the lar­vae of the Shin­ing Pen­cil-blue and the

Shin­ing Oak-blue but­ter­flies.

In our streets I can find very few of th­ese trees but read­ers may know of more. That shown be­side the river has sur­vived im­mer­sion in floods los­ing a branch or two but bat­tles on. The small spec­i­men shown, about four years old, is lo­cated in the west­ern end of Vic­to­ria Street, south.

So as you en­joy the de­li­cious cheeses of Aus­tralia (with or with­out a glass of wine) be pleased that the birds and but­ter­flies have their cheeses too.

❝ Cheese comes for the birds and but­ter­flies too in the form of the Cheese Tree.

Ref­er­ence: AG Floyd: Rain­for­est Trees of Main­land South-eastern Aus­tralia. In­ter­net: Bushcraft Oz

PHOTOS: BAR­BARA FA­HEY

Cheese tree by the river.

Leaves and baby cheeses.

Young spec­i­men in Vic­to­ria St, Grafton.

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