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Thursday, 30 December 2010

Barcelona's Botanic Garden - Australia Area

Suggestion by Mark...

Barcelona's Botanic Garden has different areas: Mediterranean Bassin, Chilean Mediterranean Area, South Africa, California and Australia. Click on the picture for more details about the Australian Area of the garden...

The Australian Mediterranean region, covering 700,000 km2, is the second largest in surface area (it represents just over 20% of the biome). It is formed by two separate sectors in the south and southwest of the continent. It contains some 8,000 known species of which 75% are endemic. The climate is Mediterranean with a certain tropical influence due to the proximity of the Oceanic monsoons; this influence means that the summer drought is not as severe as here at home, but even so there is a high frequency of forest fires. The soils are very poor in nutrients. An important characteristic of these lands is the absence of major predatory herbivores: it should be remembered that until the arrival of Europeans on the continent there were only marsupials. This explains why a genus such as that of acacias, which in the Northern hemisphere is full of thorns with very small, divided leaves as a defensive strategy against herbivores, is not like that in Australia, because it is simply not necessary. In the Australian area of the Garden, in addition to its characteristic Mediterranean flora, plants are also cultivated selected from the temperate flora of the southeast of the continent (states of Victoria and New South Wales). Trees and bushes alike are dominated by a large number of species from a few families such as Mimosae (Acacia), Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Callistemon) and Proteaceae (Hakea, Banksia, Grevillea). Also present are other remarkably singular and primitive species of trees, which are characterised by displaying homogeneous behaviour during their growth:
Xanthorrhoea or grass trees with very narrow, non-fleshy leaves, surprisingly well adapted to fires.
• Casuarinas and conifers from the cypresses group (Callitris genus).