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The Australian National University

Acton tree trail

The most obvious and valuable landscape feature of the ANU campus is its vast and diverse treescape. There are approximately 10000 trees on the campus and they can be divided into 3 categories:

  • Original trees which pre date European settlement
    These trees are the remnants of the savannah woodland which was a feature of the higher ground on the site, particularly Acton Ridge. (It is interesting to note that the bulk of the site was grassland.) The original trees include five species, Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box), Eucalyptus blakelyi (Blakely's Red Gum), Eucalyptus bridgesiana (Apple Box), Eucalyptus manifera (Brittle Gum) and Eucalyptus rubida (Candle Bark). On the basis of heritage significance the remaining original trees are the most important trees to conserve and protect on the campus. They are also the 'bones' which support the landscape structure of the campus.
  • Native and exotic trees planted after white settlement in the pastoral phase and then the Federal phase of the site
    Prior to ANU being established significant tree planting had occurred on some parts of site particularly in the areas in proximity to the old hospital buildings. In the 1920s Thomas Weston was responsible for planting a wide selection of trees to trial their performance for future use. The selection included Australian native species from various origins, exotic deciduous trees and exotic coniferous trees. The bulk of these plantings are valuable assets to the ANU treescape.
  • Native and exotic trees planted after ANU was established in 1949
    Extensive planting programs have proceeded since 1949 in association with the development of the campus. Various tree themes have evolved within the campus with areas of predominantly Australian native species, others with mainly exotic deciduous trees or conifers and some with mixed planting. Perhaps the most enduring philosophy for the planting theme for the campus is based on an image of the native landscape of Black Mountain sweeping over the campus being interspersed with pockets and avenues of exotic species.

The trees of the ANU campus have high aesthetic and ecological value and are held in high regard by the management and general community of this university. Substantial funds are allocated each year to managing this natural resource that is in a constant state of change. The primary aim of the tree management plan is to maintain our trees in a healthy and safe state and to protect and retain them as a dominant feature of the ANU campus.

The purpose of the Tree Walk is to familiarise staff, students and visitors with the natural heritage the Acton Campus, whilst also making visitors and users of the campus aware of the way in which this aspect of campus heritage has changed over time.

Download the site location map of the Acton tree trail (pdf, **KB).

List of sites

1. Eucalyptus blakelyi (Blakely's Red Gum)

Blakely's Red Gum is endemic to the ACT. The species is generally characterised by smooth whitish bark with grey patches. Red Gum trees are under threat in the ACT because of repeated attack from lerp insects that cause dieback and death.

Botanical and common name honour W.F. Blakely (1875-1941) noted Australian botanist.

Eucalyptus blakelyi (Blakely's Red Gum)

2. University Avenue plantings

The tree plantings that feature along University Avenue are intended to reflect the changes of the four seasons of the year that are distinct in Canberra. Species include: Ulmus picturata (Picture Elm), Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elm), Ulmus procera (English Elm), Populus nigra 'Italica' (Lombardi Poplar), Populus alba (Silver Poplar), Populus alba 'Pyrimidalis' (Upright Silver Poplar), Cedrus atlantica (Atlantic Cedar) and Prunus cerercifera (Flowing Plum). Planting was undertaken during the 1920s under the direction of Charles Weston to form one of the axes of the Burley Griffin plan; the road that linked the City to the CSIRO was removed in 1969.

University Avenue plantings

3. Eucalyptus polyanthemos (Red Box)

The Red Box is endemic to the ACT. This species is generally characterised by rough persistent bark on the trunk and blue green oval shaped leaves. The distinctive red timber is dense, very strong and durable; it is used for fencing and is excellent firewood.

Botanical: Greek poly (much or many) plus anthemon (flower).

Eucalyptus polyanthemos (Red Box)

4. Eucalyptus blakelyi (Blakely's Red Gum) - Blacksmiths tree

This tree is thought to mark the place where a blacksmith's workshop was once located prior to the development of Canberra. The round steel pipe embedded in the trunk was used to forge horseshoes. This tree is in a state of decline and the canopy has been reduced to remove dead and hazardous branches.

Eucalyptus blakelyi (Blakely's Red Gum) Blacksmiths Tree

5. Eucalyptus rubida (Candle bark)

The Candle bark is endemic to the ACT. The nectar and pollen are useful for honey production and the leaves are of major significance in the diet of Koalas. The species is generally charcterised by the red or pink colour of the bark during spring and summer, hence the Latin name 'rubida' (meaning red).

Eucalyptus rubida (Candle bark)

6. Eucalyptus rubida (Candle bark) Boundary tree

The remains of this tree represent the tree cover that once dominated this site prior to European settlement. During the pastoral phase of this site it was used as a boundary marker between the two properties (Springbank and Acton) that existed prior to the development of ANU. The surrounding landscape treatment represents endemic grassland species.

Eucalyptus rubida (Candle bark) Boundary Tree

7. Eucalyptus bridgesiana (Apple Box)

The Apple Box is endemic to the ACT. The species is generally characterised by rough, dark bark that is persistent up the trunk and on lateral branches. This group of trees represents a remnant forest that predates white settlement on this site.

The Botanical name was given in 1898 after F. Bridges, Surveyor General of New South Wales.

Eucalyptus bridgesiana (Apple Box)

8. Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box)

The Yellow Box is endemic to the ACT. The species is generally characterised by smooth, cream to yellowish bark with brown rough bark at the base that can extend up the trunk. Yellow Box trees are highly regarded by apiarists for honey production.

Botanical: Latin: melleus (honey) plus odora (sweet or pleasant smell).

Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box)

9. Cedrus libani (Cedar of Lebanon)

Planted 3 April 1914 by Earl Grey Pres. Royal Colonial Society under the direction of Charles Weston.

Cedrus libani (Cedar of Lebanon)

10. Cedrus deodara (Himalayan Cedar)

Planted 3 April 1914 by Lady Grey under the direction of Charles Weston.

Cedrus deodara (Himalyan Cedar)

11. Brachychyton populneus (Karrajong)

The Karrajong is endemic to the ACT. The roots and seeds of this tree are edible and the foliage can be used to feed stock. Indigenous people made fishing nets and twine from the fibers from the trunk. The species name 'populneus' is given because the leaves of this tree resemble that of a Poplar tree.

Cedrus deodara (Himalyan Cedar)

12. Eucalyptus viminalis (Manna Gum)

The Manna Gum is endemic to the ACT. Species is generally characterised by the smooth white to yellowish bark that is replaced annually, leaving strips of bark hanging from branch forks. Very tall forest tree capable of reaching 30 to 50 metres in height.

Botanical - latin viminalis (bearing long flexible twigs).

Eucalyptus viminalis (Manna Gum)

Updated:  23 September 2013/Responsible Officer:  Director, Facilities & Services Division/Page Contact:  Systems & Information Technology