FROM ROOTS TO TIP
Sadly, there aren’t any ogres living in this swamp, but thanks to the Swamp Paperbarks growing all around us, there is a huge variety of other living creatures to be found here.
From the roots to tip, Melaleuca rhaphiophylla is helping life to thrive. Their roots can grow through flooded soil thanks to tubes called ‘aerenchyma’ which let air flow from the leaves to the roots inside the plant. This means they can grow in and around the edge of waterways, stopping erosion, and providing an amazing environment for aquatic invertebrates, frogs, and fish to breed, live and feed.
Just above the surface of the water, many kinds of waterbirds use Swamp Paperbark forests as an ideal place to nest and raise their chicks where they can grab a fish, frogs and insects for a snack, and away from most predators. If you’re around Herdsman in spring and summer, it’s worth having a look around to see if there are any chicks or eggs.
Moving up the tree, the flaky, papery bark which gives swamp paperbark its name is an ideal home for hundreds of insect and spider species looking for shelter from predators or the weather. The bark is waterproof, so in rainy weather lots of small creatures like lizards can hide under the flaky sections to stay dry.
Noongar people also realised how useful the waterproof bark of Bibool (Noongar name for Swamp Paperbark) is. They used it to carry water, preserve and cook meat, and as roofing for small shelters called ‘Mia Mia’. How many other uses can you think of for the waterproof bark?
Noongar people also used wrapped up bark for torches, made sweet drinks from the flowers, and used the leaves to treat cold and flu. How useful is this tree!?
Last but not least, the thick bushy canopy of the Swamp Paperbark provides shade for everything living below and is the perfect spot for even more birds to nest, protected from predators on the ground, and in the sky.
From the roots to tip, Swamp Paperbark is helping life to thrive.