Published on 11 September 2023

Meet Onkaparinga's first Tree of the Month

The City of Onkaparinga's inaugural Tree of the Month is … this towering River Red Gum in Flagstaff Hill.

The gigantic tree is located in Corsair Drive, surrounded by colourful understorey plants and towering over the tiled rooftops of the hilly suburb.

Why the River Red Gum? Ian Fox, owner of the tree, can give half a dozen reasons why it's a winner.

“The big River Red Gums in our yard are an amazing reminder of the natural world that our suburbs have covered over,” he says.

“They support plenty of insects, birds and mammals. There is nothing more wonderful than seeing a koala resting on a branch, staring down at you, or hearing one growling through the night.

“And it's pretty hard to beat the call of a boobook owl to remind you that the trees and the wildlife were here long before us.”

For Ian, there are also climate advantages.

“We know these trees store carbon and provide oxygen and shade – which can be a significant benefit,” he says.

“Our trees provide masses of shade, even with a concrete driveway. Temperatures in the front yard where the trees are located are dramatically cooler in summer than temperatures in our backyard.”

Ian admits the big eucalypts can be messy, but he believes the positives far outweigh the negatives.

“Yes, the trees drop leaves. Twigs come down in every strong wind. But learning to live with the mess and accepting that you'll have to clean your paths and gutters regularly has its rewards,” he says.

“You might not be able to have that formal garden you crave. Instead, if you take a different view of gardening, you realise that you are sharing space with an ever-dwindling number of the largest living things we have around us, and that is pretty special.

“We hope you cherish and protect the big trees in your neighbourhood like we do ours.”

City of Onkaparinga’s Urban Forest Coordinator, Joel Ashforth, assessed Ian’s nominated River Red Gum – Eucalyptus camaldulensis – and agrees it's stacked with benefits:

  • The tree is 24 metres tall.
  • It produces enough oxygen in one year for 377 people to breath for a day.
  • It provides 165 square metres of shade, the equivalent of 53 beach umbrellas, representing a possible saving more than 10 per cent on cooling costs.
  • It cleans the air by removing 1358 grams of harmful air pollution each year.
  • It provides important habitat and food for birds, mammals, reptiles and insects.

For nominating the winning Tree of the Month, Joel presented Ian and his equally tree-loving partner Trish Hammond with five State Flora Nursery vouchers for native tube stock to further green their garden.

The City of Onkaparinga launched its Tree of the Month program in July this year to mark National Tree Day.

Go online to nominate your favourite tree and you could be the council’s next Tree of the Month winner.

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A photo of Ian Fox and Trish Hammond smiling alongside their huge Aberfoyle Park tree.