Miena cider gum
The Miena cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii subsp. divaricata) is an iconic tree that is endemic to Tasmania’s central plateau where it mostly grows on the edges of frost hollows. It is extremely frost resistant and has been used in eucalyptus breeding programs because of this characteristic.
Cider gums are renowned for producing a sweet sap which ferments in contact with natural yeasts in the air to produce an alcoholic drink. Burns and Skemp wrote in 1961 ...
“The cider of the cider tree was a fermented liquid made from the sap of the cider gum (E. gunnii). During late spring and early summer the sweetish sap of this highland species of eucalypt runs very freely and appreciable quantities may be obtained from cut of broken trunks and branches, or deep incisions in the bark. The Tasmanian aborigines collected this sap in holes lined with clay and covered it with bark until it fermented."
The Miena Cider Gum is listed as critically endangered under Commonwealth threatened species legislation. The main threats to this species are drought, animal browsing, inappropriate fire regimes, habitat fragmentation, climate change and land clearing. It appears that all of these factors combined are responsible for spiraling declines observed in the species over the last 20 years.
Our project staff are working with other scientists and land managers to implement effective on-ground management to keep the Miena cider gum in the landscape for as long as possible. We are undertaking surveys to determine where the last good stands are so we can raise money to undertake caging of seedlings and install tree collars on the old flagship trees. These methods provide much-needed relief from browsing animals, allowing the trees to be more resilient.
Another focus of the project is to collect seed from each population as insurance against extinction. The seed will be stored with the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre, which is part of the Millennium Seedbank Project at Kew Gardens, England.