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Weeping paperbark and rainbow lorikeets

Weeping Paperbark (Melaleuca leucadendra)

The weeping paperbark (Melaleuca leucadendra) is one of the great trees of the lowlands of Magnetic Island. Reaching to 30 m in height, the weeping paperbarks are one of the largest trees on the Island. The Picnic Bay paperbarks are some of the oldest and largest in the region and are an intrinsic part of the character of Magnetic Island.

Weeping paperbarks are usually found fringing creek lines and in seasonally swampy areas. They are nature's water pump and play an important role in reducing the level of ponding water in urban areas.

The weeping paperbark has narrow, oval-shaped leaves, which taper to a point and are distinguishable by their five to six veins that run the length of the leaf. The tree is named for its papery bark, a cream to grey paper-like fibre that peels off in sheets. The flowers are bottle shaped and are greenish-cream and followed by a small, woody gumnut.

Nectar from the flowers is an important food source for nectar-eating birds including rainbow lorikeets, dusky honeyeaters, sunbirds and friarbirds. Insects feeding on blossoms and nectar also provide a welcome protein boost for honeyeaters and insect eating birds.

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)

Pairs to flocks of brilliantly coloured rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) are a common sight screeching from one flowering tree to the next, seemingly drunk on nectar. Locally identified as 'Blue Mountain parrots' they form noisy communal roosts at night and disperse to all the lowland bays, to feed, in the very early morning. They nest on the decayed debris in tree hollows of the Island poplar gums.

Weeping paperbarks are important in the nesting cycle of a range of different birds. The trees provide nest sites for pied imperial pigeon, pied currawong, and peaceful doves and bark nesting material for brown-backed honeyeaters, sunbirds and friarbirds.


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