Friday, 30 March 2012

Bubbling Trees

Last week during the height of the deluge, I had a look at the light and the tree adjacent to it, a Quandong, Elaeocarpus sp., was actually spewing foam from a number of fissures. It was oozing out and dripping down the side of the tree.


The tree is healthy and not rotten in any sense. In the morning there was no trace of the foam.

If anyone has an explanation for the above, please leave a comment. I'm mystified. I suspect it is an insect, perhaps a bug of some sort, but it just does not ring true.

8 comments:

Camera Trap Codger said...

Could the Clean Tree Fairy have given it a sudsing?

Ian McMillan said...

I found on the web that 'Eucalyptus bark and leaves contain glycosylated alkaloids or isoprenoids called saponins which which foam when wet.' They aren't emerging from the tree, but simply washing off the leaves and bark. This also happens in the Sapindaceae which 'includes the hop bushes (genus Dodonaea) and foambark (Jangera pseudorhus) - which is used by Aborginal groups in NE QLD to produce a toxic foam which stuns fish ...'
http://www2b.abc.net.au/science/k2/stn/newposts/2894/topic2893693.shtm

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Dave
I was going to suggest Saponins, as Ian has done.
Many terrestrial Orchids live at the base of Eucalypt trees precisely because of the "wetting agent" function of the Saponins released from the Bark of those trees.
They do not just get extra water from the "catchment" effect of the tree trunk (directing water around the base of the tree), but the water which does run down the trunk has this extra penetrating value from the Saponins.
So these chemicals can also be advantaging your tree by making the water more effective, having this extra wetting agent.
Cheers
Denis

Mr. Smiley said...

Thanks for the comments. I've learned something in all of this. Martyn Robinson also had some similar observations. We live in a neat place.
DR

Mr. Smiley said...

Thanks for the comments. I've learned something in all of this. Martyn Robinson also had some similar observations. We live in a neat place.
DR

Crash said...

I never hear from you anymore, guess you've outgrown us. Still, love the blog - didn't know you where a published scientist until recently. I'm a bit embarrassed about that to be honest; great pics, great blog and all the best,

Paul n Jo

Ian McMillan said...

Here is SE QLD, our Eucalypts, mainly stringbarks and ironbarks, foam like crazy whenever we have heavy rain after a long dry period. I haven't noticed any ground orchids in the vicinity but very close to the trunk is often a prime site for new seedling germination.

VIX Jewellery said...

Bacterial wetwood, perhaps. There is some literature on the web that you can google. Just an idea.