Mount Wilson Rainforest - (Cyathea australis)
This is a photo of the temperate rainforest at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains, Australia. The elevation here is about 900 metres above sea level.
The rainforest is growing on basalt soils. A chocolate brown colour, rather than the usual red/brown of other basaltic areas in eastern Australian rainforest country.
In cool temperate rainforests up the north coast, the forest is dominated by the Antarctic Beech. And Coachwood and Common Sassafras are smaller trees in the understorey.
The rainforests at Mount Wilson are some of the finest you will see in the central highlands of New South Wales. Great scenery, very interesting botany. And so dramatically contrasting to the dry eucalyptus country away from the basaltic soils.
High altitude rainforests of north eastern New South Wales often have Antarctic Beech dominating the rainforest. Or in the south, the Pinkwood is the dominant plant. Botanists tend to call such forests "cool temperate rainforests". If these two species are lacking, and if there are no other significant cool temperate rainforest trees nearby, they call it "warm temperate rainforest"
In this particular forest, cool temperate trees are present, the Black Olive Berry and the Southern Sassafras grow by the streams, but they are small and seldom seen. Banksia integrifolia subsp. monticola is listed here as well, but I didn't see any of these three species.
This rainforest has a canopy of 25 metres tall, the forest is dominated by Coachwood & Common Sassafras. There are other tree species as well. But they make up only 25% of the canopy. Coachwood is not often seen growing on the relatively fertile basalt soils. More usually seen on alluvial soils in fire free gullies.
Other canopy trees include the ubiquitous Lilli Pilli, Blackwood and Possumwood. Good sized Lilli Pilli today, 25 metres tall at least. The biggest trees in the rainforest were the Common Sassafras, over 30 metres tall.
Why is there no Nothofagus here? Or Eucryphia? (Antarctic Beech or Pinkwood). Both would do well. The place was screaming out for Antarctic Beech. If planted here they'd be fine, they'd do so well. Was it fire that killed them off?
It was great to see very, very old Coachwood. Some Coachwood are practically immortal. The stem dies off. But the roots are so healthy, that they re-shoot. And several ancient Coachwood were seen with up to 20 new shoots. And one or two of those main shoots will prevail. Then they'll be blown over. And further new shoots will come up. The base of these old plants is very wide indeed. With a broken circle and new thin shoots rising up.