My interest in trees extends to parts of trees, flowers, bark, branches, fruits, pods, and in the case of gum trees, flower caps. When the flowers open the caps are shed and fall to ground. The caps themselves vary in size from several centimetres across to ones of only 2-3 mm. Some are just a shallow saucer like the Pope’s zecchetto, while others are quite elongated like witches hats, and with everything in between. However, most people have never seen a flower cap from a gum tree because they have never looked for one.
I try and search them out whenever I see a gum tree in flower. It is best to collect them up a day or two after they have fallen while they still retain their colour and shape, although some I have kept for a year or two retain much of their original colour. Collecting the very small ones for a photograph can be a significant challenge because they are actually hard to see on the ground amongst the leaf litter and their small size can make it very difficult to pick up them with your fingers. I was recently collecting the tiny caps jettisoned from Eucalyptus leucoxylon, the South Australian Blue Gum, it took me about one and a half hours to get enough caps for a photograph and I had to do this in two sessions over tow days because I could not keep bending over and searching the ground for that length of time. The caps are tiny and when I tried to pick them up they would often fall down further into the leaf litter and be lost so my efficiency was low.
Flower caps on Eucalyptus leucoxylon
The caps I collected last week from the South Australian Blue Gum
Of course people often see me on my hands and knees on the ground and wonder what I am up to, several different people asked me to explain what I was doing last week, some understood while others just could not fathom at all what I was up to and why. I did have the thought though that since it is unlikely anyone else is predisposed to crawling around on hands and knees under a tree for considerable time collecting tiny parts of flowers that I will probably be able to produce some unique photographs! I hope you enjoy them.