The Turpentine is February's plant of the month.
Turpentine or Yanderra
Eastern Queensland to SE New South Wales
Turpentines are found in transitional forests, between rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest, where they grow as tall emergent trees. In poorer soils, they will adapt a smaller habit. Turpentines often grow in higher nutrient, heavy clay soils derived from Wianamatta Shale. The Turpentine is one of the dominant species of the critically endangered “Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest Ecological Community” located in Sydney’s inner west, with only 0.5% of its original distribution remaining.
The Turpentine grows into a large straight-trunked tree up to 55metres. They are thought to live up to 500 years. The thick brown bark is fibrous, with deep vertical furrows running down the trunk. The leaves are arranged oppositely on the stems, and pairs grow close together so that they resemble a whorled group of four leaves. Their upper surface is a dull dark green, and lower surface a pale white colour, covered by fine hairs.
The cream flowers appear in Spring and are followed by woody aggregate capsules which ripen in summer. The woody capsules have a ‘spaceship-like’ appearance.
The flowers are pollinated by bees, moths, nectivore birds and the Parklands resident colony of Grey-headed Flying-foxes and Little Red Flying-Fox.
The sap and ash from the leaves were used by the Aboriginal people as an antiseptic. The timber is fire resistant, highly durable and resistant to termites and marine borers making it perfect for flooring, telegraph poles and wharves. The London docks are made from Australian Turpentine timber. Essential oil is extracted from the leaves that is anti-inflammatory, insect repelling and stress-relieving.
Contrary to popular belief, no part of the tree smells like turpentine. The largest known Turpentine, located in Barrington Tops National Park, has a trunk circumference of 7.9 metres and a height of 58 metres.
Where to see the Turpentine in Centennial Parklands
South of Banksia Way at Centennial Homestead.