Brisbane Rainforest Action & Information Network


Trip to Smith's Scrub November 11, 1995

Brookfield was first settled by timber cutters in the early 185O's with private settlement beginning in the 1860's. The area now known as Smith's Scrub was sold to William Smith in 1913 and was of about 96 acres. At this time the scrub still contained large millable Hoop pine; it was government policy to leave this timber for farmers to cut and sell, to make a living while establishing their crops. William Smith and his family farmed fruit and vegetables on the area until Mr. Smith's death in 1946. The farm was then divided into two properties with each son taking half and continuing to farm. John Smith later bought back 25 acres, from his uncle when he sold the property.

The Brookfield & nearby Pullenvale scrubs are distinct, with the Pullenvale scrub being drier and on less fertile soil than that at Brookfield. The scrub is classified as 'Araucarian notophyll/microphyll vine forest' (Webb) or Lowland warm subtropical rainforest with Hoop pine emergents' (McDonald & Elsol). It occupies about 7 hectares on a volcanic outlier. It lies on the south side of a ridge, the aspect making it unsuitable for farming. Since 1935 (when there was only 1 Hoop pine left) over 60 emergent Hoop pines have regenerated. Laurie Jessup (Old Herbarium) has identified 160 native species in the scrub. It is considered as the most important collection site in Brisbane by Queensland Museum entomologists. Red necked pademelons and Common planigales have been recorded in the scrub.

Eleven folk forsook Saturday morning shopping (what a sacrifice!) to visit Smith's Scrub. It was a sunny day, very hot & humid away from city air-conditioning but we were soon in the scrub and its shade. As we walked up the track, as well as trying to absorb all the plant names that rolled off Ken's tongue, our heads were spinning as we tried to catch glimpses of the butterflies that Richard Zeiteg told us about. It was an excellent day to get people enthused about butterflies as there were so many around.These creatures alerted Richard to the presence of certain host plants even if they were not immediately visible. Butterfly knowledge can be a useful tool in plant finding and ID! (See following article by Richard).

As we walked up the track, the first trees to catch the eye were some large Foambarks (Jagera pseudorhus) and close by a gnarled and presumably old (since they grow so s-lo-w- I-y) Capparis arborea (Native pomegranate). The foliage on this plant was quite different to that on juveniles. A Smell-of-the-bush (Mallotus claoxyloides) was seen fruiting - there is a theory that only the female plants smell. Feedback on this one please! Also in fruit was the Red Olive Berry (Cassine australis). The vine Secamone elliptica; was seen (with Blue Tiger butterflies laying eggs on it); the common name of Corky milk vine is very descriptive and a good way to identify the vine.

The tallest trees on the slope were the emergent Hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii). The oldest (& tallest) of these could be seen near the top of the hill. Highlights in this part of our walk included Turraea pubescens (Native Honeysuckle). There was a light scent from a large individual overhanging the track and the tree was covered with the delicate yellow and white flowers. Nearby was a large and truly pendulous Streblus brunonianus (Whalebone tree) it's long drooping branches hanging over the track.

One of the less common species we saw was Mischocarpus anodontus (Few fruited tamarind; identified by the 1-2 domatia on the leaf underside). Also the vine Parsonsia lenticellata was seen several times; elsewhere it is much less common than P. straminea, which is not on the Smith's Scrub species list.

Also seen on this stretch ... Mallotus philippensis, Flindersia australis, Carissa ovata, Drypetes australasica, Aphananthe philippinensis, Exocarpus latifolius, Capparis sarmentosa, Ailanthus triphysa, Harpullia hillii, Breynia oblongifolia, Cryptocaria laevigata (usually likes wetter sites), Alyxia ruscifolia var. ruscifolia, Alectryon connatus, Microcitrus australis, Cayratia acris, Olea paniculata, Siphodon australis, Macrozamia miquellii, Ficus obliqua and Diospyros geminata.

We emerged from the scrub onto the ridge and looked down onto the orchards of pawpaw, mango, and bananas, growing on the north and east facing slopes. After a break we traversed westwards across the hillside along a broad track. A Pinus elliottii (Slash pine) plantation had been established but was not thriving and in places native vines were almost smothering the pines. Here we saw Guioa semiglauca and Ficus fraseriboth laden with fruits.

This section was more weedy probably because of the clearing for the pine plantation) and included Lantana montevidensis, and Parsiflora ****. The shrub Breynia oblongifolia (some fruiting) was common. An unusual sight was a Crows Ash with markedly yellow foliage. Streblus brurtoniamus was seen in flower. Other species noted in this section... Alectryon connarus, Melia aze&darach, Alectryon tomentosum, Adiantum hispidulum, Bridelia exaltata, Excoecaria dallachyana, Tetrastigma nitens, Dendrocnide photinophylla and Alangium villosum subsp. tomentosum.

Taking an indistinct narrow track, we plunged back into the forest. In this area the groundcover comprised almost exclusively Coral Berry Rivina humilis, growing quite densely in places. Was it suppressing germination of natives, we wondered? Here Scrub Python trees (Austromyrtus bidwillii) were first noticed. Also some grand old Premna lignumvitae (Satinwood), fairly readily identified from the fluted or scalloped trunkbase and the regular pattern on the bark (finely fissured shedding in small corky flakes).

Other finds were a Narrow- leaved gardenia (Randia chartaceae) with it's small white scented propeller-like flowers and a huge twisting Maclura cochinchinensis slung between two trees. In this area we also saw Wilkiea macrophylla, Owenia venosa (any tips for germination?), Diospyros australis, Cordyline sp., Atalaya salicifolia, Sarcomelicope simplicifolia (not common), Podocarpus elatus and an Erythrina vespertilio with a diameter of 0.5m which is probably as big as they get.

As we headed back east we noticed, in an area which had been cleared (at some stage), regenerating species including Acacia aulacocarpa, Melia azedarach, Breynia oblonifolia and Mallotus philrppensis. Also noted were Citriobatus pauciflorus, Planchonella myrsinoides, Cayratia clematidea#, Daphnandra micrantha, Scolopia braunii. Lunch under a spreading Ficus by the farm house was very pleasant and we were reluctant to leave and return to the real world.

Thanks to Ken for organising the trip and to the Smith family for allowing us to visit this wonderfully rich patch of scrub.

# new addition to species list.