IRONBARKS, AS THEIR name suggests, are tough trees. Their outer covering is thick, rough and deeply furrowed. Dead bark is not shed but accumulates. As it dies, it is infused with kino, a dark red sap or gum. The kino ensures that the bark is impervious to fire and heat, protecting the living tissue within – one of the many adaptations of eucalypts.
It is this infusion of kino that gives the bark its dark colour, almost black. As if the trunks have already been burned. Or belong to another time. In places, deep red oozes through, like blood. Ironbarks grow in tough country, tolerating the dry. Their grey-green narrow leaves, turned sideways to the sun, are one of the features of the Australian landscape that early white explorers and settlers found so dreary and monotonous.
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