sarahkeenihan

Day 112. Bloodwood

In December 2012 on December 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm

 red sap

A morning walk for French pastries turned into a journey of discovery today when we happened upon a large Bloodwood, or Corymbia tree.

The lower half of the trunk was covered in deep red, quince-paste-coloured crystals and solidified drips of sap – we collected a few samples (shown above).

The tree itself appeared rather different in terms of bark and leaf characteristics compared to other native Australian plants I could see in the street, so upon returning home I performed a little research.

It turns out Corymbia is indeed a Eucalypt, but its relationship with other trees in the genus is complex. Jim Barrow at Australian Plants online tells an interesting story about Corymbia, and in doing so sheds some light on the processes botanists use to classify plants and describe their evolutionary relationships with each other. I’ll leave it to you to read the full story, but the bottom line is there can be two approaches to thinking about plant classification. To quote Jim,

“Fundamentalists argue that classification must follow evolution. If the branching structures created by computer programs show one group branching off and then another group branching from this, this must be reflected in the names given to the groups.”

“Pragmatists say that classifications are generated by humans for our convenience and a genus is a grouping of questionable natural significance.”

I’d love to study plant – and indeed animal- classification. My impression is that it would be a walk through history as well as biology.

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