Mountain Ash – Eucalyptus regnans
Other Names: Mountain-ash, Swamp Gum, Stringy Gum, Giant Ash, Tasmanian Gum, Tasmanian Oak, White Mountain Ash, Victorian Ash, Australian Oak, yowork, warreeha, yowat (Karnathun)
Distinctive Characteristics: This evergreen eucalypt is one of the tallest and fastest-growing tree species in the world; it can reach a towering 213 ft. (65 m) in just fifty years. Mature trees are buttressed at the base, with the lower 50 ft. (15 m) covered in long, peeling strips of bark up to 98 ft. (30 m) long, with the upper bark being smooth and grey. According to calculations, Mountain Ash forests are some of the best for carbon storage.
Distribution: Native to Tasmania and Victoria, Australia. Elevation: up to 3,300 ft. (1,000 m).
Ecosystem: Grows in cool, temperate rainforests, in pure stands or with Blackwood, Grey Gum, Victorian Blue Gum, Manna Gum, Shining Gum, Myrtle Beech, Silver Wattle, Southern Sassafras, Celery Top Pine, Leatherwood, Alpine Ash, Messmate, and Red Stringybark. It hybridizes with the last two of these. At least nine species of epiphytes grow on the Mountain Ash.
Maximum Age: Estimated at 500 years.
Maximum Height and Girth: Mountain Ash is considered the tallest flowering plant (angiosperm) in the world and the second tallest tree in the world, next to Coast Redwood (which is a gymnosperm, having cones). Historically, the Thorpdale Tree (also known as the Cornthwaite Tree) was measured at 375 ft. (114.3 m). Currently, the tallest is the Centurion, at a height of 327 ft. (99.6 m) and a circumference of 25 ft. (7.6 m).
Animal Community: The tiny Leadbeater's possum uses the hollows in old Mountain Ash trees for nesting, shelter, and foraging of insects; it also feeds on the sap, along with the yellow-bellied gliders. Koalas eat the foliage, although it is not their preferred species. Yellow-tailed black cockatoos nest in the hollows of old trees, and the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle nests in the tops.
Transportation: Canoes were made from the a large sheet of bark.
Modern Uses: Mountain Ash has been valued as timber for general construction, as well as for making furniture, flooring, paneling, veneer, newsprint, plywood, and wood chips.
Threats and Conservation: Although this species is not listed as threatened, old growth forests of Mountain Ash are in danger. Much of the acreage has been clear-cut, and most of what is left is controlled by the Department of State Forestry. This species is also very susceptible to lack of regeneration after fire.