Alice Springs Flora •
The magnificent and stately Ghost Gum (Corymbia aparrerinja), has a smooth bark, that is sometimes described as powdery, with white to cream-coloured bark. It has lance-shaped or curved adult leaves and has white flowers, whose fruit is a cup-shaped to cylindrical.
The word aparrerinja comes from the Arrernte language said to mean ‘found around river red gums’, although it is described by the Western Arrernte word for ghost gum, as ilwempe.
Under the right conditions and environment they can grow up to 20 metres in height, although when they grow on rocky hillsides (clinging to the edges), they may be smaller in statue, but still very striking with its smooth white bark. The ghost gums are beautiful with their trunk glowing white in the moon light.
Featured in Aboriginal culture and art, the beauty of the ghost gums were brought to the attention of the world by many artist including the renowned Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira in his water colour landscape paintings. He was know for his paintings of the twin ghost gums on the outskirt of Alice Springs.
Unlike the Tree of Knowledge in Barcaldine, Queensland, a ghost gum that represented a symbol of union fellowship, that was poisoned, and despite media stories to the contrary about the burning of the Twin Ghosts Gums in Central Australia, an alternative view on the death of the Twin Ghost Gums were that they were more likely from “a grass fire that escalated”.1
A popular tree that can be found around the town, the tall ghost gums pictured here, were from two saplings that were planted on the north side of Alice Springs. The young ghost gum pictured is on the west side of town.
Footnote & References
- A touch of light: Ilwempe Aperrtye, Twin Gums, by Mike Gillam, 6 October 2020, Alice Springs News, https://alicespringsnews.com.au/2020/10/06/a-touch-of-light-ilwempe-aperrtye-twin-gums/