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Spring 2009: Bunya Pines were planted at ‘’Janahn Forest’’ as part of a tree belt configured to reduce dam surface evaporation. Growing trees will gradually reduce wind, shade water & elevate humidity: attributes that contribute to lower surface water loss. Belah, Hoop Pine & Bunya have a natural ability to condense more atmospheric moisture from the surface of their leaves than most other trees. These particular trees are often observed dripping water from fog and dew during Winter: they cool the ground & moisten the air.

Planting Bunya’s into Black Soil and Hard Box Country is a risk as roots will be susceptible for many years to fractures caused by cracking clay soils. To counteract this adversity, some Bunyas were planted with either Belah or Saltbush Seedlings. Context being: The roots of Belah & Saltbush are better adapted to heavy clay and will bind with the Bunyas to protect against root fractures.

The Big Heatwave: Peaked February 2017, on the back of nine months below average rainfall. 62 mm of overnight rain fell in the first week of January 17. Then there was no rain for the next six weeks. During which temperature’s peaked at 45 degrees, with multiple days over 40 degrees. During the heatwave, 7-year-old Bunyas planted 400 mm from Belah thrived without any hand  watering. Bunyas planted solo, or next to Saltbush, started to fail. They needed watering for the first time in 4 years during the final fortnight of That Impressive Heatwave Event.

Up on the Bunya Mountains there once were “Living Bunya Stumps” up to 80 years old after felling. With healed rims they formed a hollow similar to a vase that held water. There was no visible capacity for these stumps to photosynthesis. The bark was alive. Locals believe: Roots have fused onto another tree to maintain its sap flow.

Bunya Pines have been observed to grow much faster when planted next to Queensland Maple (on the Sunshine Coast). Speculation was: The Maple has clusters of wire like roots that have little claws that may penetrate the roots of the Bunya to provide a beneficial transfer of nutrients.


PHOTO 1: Bunya Pine with taller companion Belah. CIRCA 2016.

Belah: Is a species of Casuarina found throughout the Great Inland Brigalow Belt. Casuarinas produce spreading networks of fibrous cluster roots that accumulate phosphorous by association with the mycelium of mycorrhiza fungi. (Mycorrhizal fungi is often seen in piles of moist wood chips) Belah roots may span and extend for 10 to 20 metres from a single tree. Interconnected mycelium may span for hundreds of metres more. Mycorrhizal fungi feeds by producing enzymes and oxalic acid that eats into rock, extracting and digesting calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and other elements. These nutrients and water are carried by the single celled tubes called mycelium. The mycelium penetrates the roots of host plants to exchange minerals and water for essential sugars via its secretions.

Fungi breathes in oxygen, exhales carbon dioxide. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide, exhale oxygen. Fungi does not photosynthesis.


PHOTO 2: Bunya Pine base in the Mountains 40km East of Janahn. CIRCA 2016.

Reasonable conclusion: 1) Bunya Pines and Belah have created a mutual symbiotic relationship with one or more species of mycorrhiza. Once mycelium networks have determined the shortest route to access and exchange nutrients they shut down non-essential components of the network. One species of mycorrhizal fungi is now delivering water from many metres away to two species of trees that are growing side by side.  2) Saltbush is compatible with Bunya when ample local moisture is available. Saltbush roots tend to go down deep and not span outwards. Saltbush is capable of depleting all locally available moisture yet manages to survive extended dry periods. Bunya roots also tend to go down more so than spanning outwards.

Due to its relatively short life, the Bunya is yet to develop roots that will ensure its survival by extending beyond those of the Saltbush. 3) Bunya planted alone can only draw moisture from its immediate root zone unless it has tapped onto an extended mycelium network. 4) Take away the mycelium associated with the Living Bunya Stump and the Stump will die. Research into the role of fungi and plants has proven that all plants are part fungi. Without mycorrhizal fungi, Bunya and Belah cannot take up nutrients.  If you isolate Bunya Pine seed and keep it moist you will see mycorrhizal fungi emerge. The fungi associated with the Bunya Pine is already in the entire tree. Once seed strikes its own unique range of fungi colonise the roots of the Bunya and expand into its new environment.

Compatibility between microorganisms that live beneath the forest floor and the plants and animals above has been predetermined by hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Bunya and Hoop have origins dating back to earliest fossil records of trees.  Bunya, Hoop and Belah have evolved with mycorrhiza to colonise rock and sand and to withstand periods of frost & dry. With know how they will grow in virtually all soil types. These are the trees that accelerate the making of soil.

The type of fungi associated with vine scrub differs to that of the eucalypt and of grasslands. To enhance and maintain fertility in all types of mini ecosystems you must ensure that the fungi is nourished.  As with all land use, we can only make better, or make worst. All fertile eco-systems are fungal rich, including grasslands. They produce their own fertility predominantly by self-mulching.


PHOTO 3: Bunya thriving with an Acacia that is regularly cut back. CIRCA 2016.

Other species suitable for interplanting include:  Wilga, Silky Oak, Broad & Narrowleaf Bottletrees, Kurrajong, White Cedar. They all differ from the eucalypt by providing more digestible crude leaf litter proteins for the soil food web. Some are Dry/Spring Deciduous, providing bulk leaf litter whilst conserving moisture.

They may be grown in say, a 10 x 10 metre grid formation as an open grazing forest, as individual specimens, or they may be configured into a canopy forest. They add value to any property.

Fastest Growing According to Soil, Rain and Conditions: Belah has grown to 6 m within 8 years on Old Cultivated Gravelly Loam. Silky Oak has a similar growth rate. Both are the amongst the easiest to establish and are useful “frost breaks” for establishing cold sensitive trees like Native Figs and Macadamias. White Cedar is an extra fast-growing shade tree.

New Improved Planting Techniques: Are based on a wide tree hole minimum 600mm deep backfilled with charcoal, soil, fermented offal and cow/sheep manure. Most recent planting are growing about 5 times faster than earlier plantings during the crucial first 12 months establishment phase. (A correctly balanced carbon to nitrogen ratio is an essential part of the blend).

Cattle and sheep tend to avoid Bunya and Hoop Pine: they do require a tree guard for the first 2-3 years. With Bunya and Hoop, you will usually find the “’best place to plant’’ based on intercepted waterflows, below a dam wall where run off accumulates for example. Latest Planting Results 15/04/18: Bunya and Hoop Pine planted first week January into heavy black clay soil with a biochar plug are close to being self sufficient, viz no longer requiring occassional hand watering. During establishment they were given 9 litres or 15 litres of water on average every three weeks, varies according to rainfall. The last big rain event 170 mm last week of Feb. 2018 has given them a massive boost. To date no rain since then and no hand watering required. You can tell when Bunya needs water. The tips of the tree turn yellow.  The trees we planted were all about 500 mm tall. Some are now 1 metre tall with lush foilage. As we now enter the cool season, we expect them to be OK until August, however with no rain we may give some water. In our nursery, Bunya and Hoop in Super Tubes require the least watering. We rely upon Tubes in Trays, with trays filled with water periodically.


PHOTO 4: Belah and Bunya Pine in a rectangular tree guard planted into a biochar plug, grew 1 metre first 14 months. CIRCA 2017.  Go to STORIES From Biochar to NitroChar for Biochar Plug Recipe.

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