Looking down from a bird’s eye view, we can see that Mardo Reserve is a pocket of remnant vegetation. This means it contains bushland native to the Perth Hills area which was intact at the time of European settlement, although it has now been severely fragmented (broken up). Prior to this, the local Aboriginal (Noongar) people lived in balance with this environment for tens of thousands of years. The entire habitat in which we Mundaring residents make our homes is known as Jarrah-Marri Forest, named after the two dominant gum trees or Eucalypts.
Marri is one of the most wonderful plants in Australia, a tough survivor of drought, fire, infertile soils and a provider of shade, air conditioning, oxygen and wildlife habitat. This species is the main large tree found in Mardo Reserve, and together with Jarrah, the most common tree in the Perth Hills. Marri can be identified by the red sap which stains its bark – in fact the name ‘marri’ is a Noongar word which means ‘blood’. The large fruit we call ‘honkey nuts’ are another characteristic feature of this tree.
Jarrah Eucalyptus marginata
Jarrah is another majestic giant with which we share our home. It has reddish-brown bark that peels off in very thin, longitudinal strips, and fades to grey in the sunlight. Its fruit are very small compared to Marri and its leaves are blue-green in colour. The occasional Jarrah tree can be observed in the reserve but it is more common in state forest and national parks throughout the Mundaring and Kalamunda Shires. This tree was logged extensively by Europeans for its timber and as a result large, old trees are now very rare.
Sheoak Allocasuarina fraseriana
Growing beneath the shaded canopy of the Jarrah/Marri forest, these middle-storey trees have fine, dark-green needles for leaves and beautiful, cork-textured bark. Their small, spiky fruit provide important food for Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos. Many sheoaks are cut down as their timber has a nicely patterned grain popular in woodworking, making each remaining tree highly valuable.
Bull Banksia Banksia grandis
Another middle-storey tree unique to south-western Australia, this plant is the most prominent species of Banksia in the Mundaring area. It has long, serrated leaves and large yellow flowers which appear from September to December. Bull Banksias are highly susceptible to dieback (caused by the pathogen Phytophthora) and prolonged drought, so their presence in bushland is a good sign of healthy bushland.
Common Donkey Orchid
There are too many other understorey plants to name here, but one of the most eye-catching and beautiful that is found in the reserve is the Donkey Orchid. This species is only visible during the winter months (June - August) when it grows a large flower stalk with numerous heads. In good seasons, or sometimes after fire, Donkey Orchids grow in clusters of dozens of plants, creating a fabulous yellow carept on the forest floor.