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22 Jul 2020

Paperbarks – a perennial favourite

There are few things more loved and admired in Centennial Parklands than its almost 16,000 strong tree collection. One of the most popular are the Broad-leaved Paperbarks.

Let's start with an interesting fact...

Centennial Parklands is the only place in Australia where paperbarks have been planted as an avenue!

A little about paperbarks...

The broad-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia) is native to New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and coastal Eastern Australia. Paperbarks occur naturally in swamps and love moist, sandy conditions, such as those in Centennial Parklands.

As with many (but not all) other Melaleuca species it has whitish papery bark, rather like many fine sheets of tissue paper stuck together, hence the origins of its common name. Trees with the Melaleuca family have aromatic oils in its leaves, which in some cases are used commercially (for example, eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil).

Nectar-feeding birds such as various Honeyeaters and Lorikeets love these trees.

Family enjoying Paperbark Grove, Centennial Park
Family strolling through Paperbark Grove in Centennial Park

Joseph Maiden, Director Royal Botanic Gardens from 1896 to 1924, considered paperbarks to be “shapely, shading objects of sylvan beauty.” He introduced paperbarks into Centennial Park, possibly his most visibly powerful planting contribution.

The row replicates an interesting but iconic planting sequence of paperbarks that Joseph Maiden used during his time. The trees are planted in a close group of three, followed by a gap, a single tree, another gap then another group of three, which is continued and allows vistas through a grand row of trees. A great example of one of the remnant rows borders the Eastern banks of Duck Pond.

The best places to see paperbarks in Centennial Parklands...

  • Paperbark Grove: located adjacent Parkes Drive in Centennial Park (between Grand Drive and Paddington Gates), Paperbark Grove was planted in 1899. The grove follows a natural watercourse and has matured to form a grand archway.

  • Snake Bank: between Busbys Pond and the Mission Fields in Centennial Park, these trees were planted in 1902 as a wind break in an informal four-row planting.

  • Lily Pond: a mass planting of paperbarks in Centennial Park that date back to 1896. Some of the most iconic images of Centennial Park are taken in this area.

  • Lachlan Swamp: although only just over 30 years old, these paperbarks in Centennial Park are just as big as those planted around Lily Pond as they were planted in ideal swampy conditions.

  • Maidens Row: located behind Kensington Pond, this row of trees was planted in 1999 as a tribute to Joseph Maiden.

Ibis in water around Paperbarks in Centennial Park
Paperbarks near Lily Pond

National Tree Day is on Sunday 28 July, and you can discover more information about the 15,000 trees in the Centennial Parklands through our free, downloadable Tree Trail. On the trail you will find old trees, ancient dinosaur species, food trees, habitat trees, historical trees, as well as native, exotic and invasive species.

Discover more trees in the Parklands

Love trees? Celebrate the world of trees through our free, downloadable self-guided Tree Trail.

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