What are Dry sclerophyll forests ?
Dry sclerophyll forests in Australia are regarded as forest areas that receive less than 1,000mm of rain each year. Common in Southern Australia especially in Victoria, New South Wales and Eastern Tasmania generally areas of poorer soil and low rainfall.
Characterized by a dominant open canopy of taller growing eucalypts with an understory of a diverse range of smaller plants including native grasses, smaller shrubs and bracken. The diversity and open nature of the understory provides habitat for a range of native forest animals.
The term sclerophyll itself means ‘hard leaf’ typical of eucalypts. In the natural scheme, these forests are regenerated by fire, so fire prevention can actually slow regeneration. In many areas over 50% of Dry sclerophyll forests have been cleared for agricultural use.
Canopy plants for Dry sclerophyll forests
Common canopy species include, Red Stringybark, Messmate, White Stringybark, Red Box, Long-leaf Box), Narrow-leaf Peppermint, Broad-leaf Peppermint, Mannah Gum, Mountain Grey gum,and Yellow Box.
Acacias also appear widely in Dry sclerophyll forests, Acacia silvestris or red wattle and Acacia bakeri are found in the the Sydney hinterland forests along with Ironbark (Eucalyptus cerebra) and the Bloodwoods (Corymibia gummier) are common. Angophers costata and Eucalyptus deanei are found in the damper areas within this system.
Understory plants for Dry sclerophyll forests
Understory and canopy plants differ greatly depending on location and although bracken species are perhaps a linking factor, the grasses and shrubs differ greatly. Around Sydney for example the understory of a Dry sclerophyll forest will commonly contain Lambertia, Dodonaea and Persoona species. With grasses such as Themeda, Lomandra and Danthonia. Banksias and warpaths are also found.
The taller trees are of medium heoght, often to 20m or so, yhe understory is rther thin with wattles and a range of small leafed shrubs and tufted grasses. Fauna includes Kangaroos (Wallabies), wombats, kolas, possum and many birds including rosellas, honeyeaters and thornbills. Snakes, frogs and lizards are also common.
Dry sclerophyll forest animals
And of course the animal in these forests also differ from area to area, around Sydney you will commonly find the Spotted-tailed quoll, Wallabies, Wombats, Long-nosed potoroo, Powerful Owl, Yellow-bellied Glider, Sugar Glider and Grey-headed Flying Fox.
Dry sclerophyll forest species and landscaping
So what do Dry sclerophyll forests have to do with nurseries and landscaping?
In many areas local councils are recognising the importance and durability of Dry sclerophyll forest species to landscping projects. Trees such as Eucalyptus crebra (narrow leafed ironbark) are now appearing on the lists of trees to planted in new developments and street plantings.
So what is the difference between dry and wet scelorphyll forests ?
Mostly moisture as the name would suggest, often south facing, and in gully areas. These are a transitional forest, between dry scelorphyll forests and rainforests. Rainfall is higher at 1300mm plus, deeper soil is also a feature.
Also the accumulation of leaf litter which is slow to break down and much taller trees than in the dry areas. The type of vegetation also differs with variance from region to region.
And as for landscaping plants, look for tree ferns as something everyone would know.