Shining Gum, particularly Eucalyptus denticulata, is the characteristic tall forest tree of Errinundera. It is the most commonly used tree for housetrees and is typically the sacred tree of towns and villages. The even larger Mountain Ash (Eucaplyptus regnans) is perhaps preferred in both roles, however this species is much less widespread.
A fine young specimen of Eucalyptus denticulata, not yet suitable as a housetree but showing its typical form and colouring.
Like other eucalypt species in Errinundera, Shining Gum grow to much larger sizes than elsewhere, achieving heights up to 50% greater than in Australia. This has not been adquately explained by botanists but speculation is that the soil and climate are exceptionally favourable. Believers in the Oo Dreamtime claim that the remnant spirit of Errinu endows the trees with extra vigour but this is not treated seriously by scientists.
The best development is found on undulating tablelands such as the great central plateau. Slopes and mountain tops are also common habitats. Fine examples can be found throughout the central plateau, in the headwaters of the Rodger River near Monkeytop and Big Tree Camp and in the Goolengook Forests. The climate is cool to warm, humid to sub-humid with the mean maximum temperature of the hottest month in the range of 21-26ºC. Frosts are numerous and severe, with 50-150 a year. Some snow occurs throughout most of the area of distribution and may remain on the ground for several days or more at a time. The mean annual rainfall is 750-1750 mm, with more or less even distribution; months with less than 50 mm, even in the drier months, are rare.
Snowfall on a sapling forest
Best development is on deep rich loamy soils over clay. Soils include basalt, granite schist, shale and sandstone.
Shining Gum grows in tall open-forest formation in pure stands or, commonly, in association with Brown Barrel (Eucalyptus fastigata). Common understory plants are Blackwood (Acacia melanoxlyon) and Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata). It also emerges above rainforest species such as Southern Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), Black Oliveberry (Elaeocarpus holopetalus), Tree Waratah (Telopea oreades) and Forest Geebung (Persoonia silvatica)
The wood is suitable for general building construction, flooring, joinery, panelling and furniture. The notorious woodchipping company NGDV Ltd formerly extensively clearfelled the species for pulp, however this was phased out around the turn of the century.
According to Dreamtime legend Errinu, the father of the forest, is supposed to be a Shining Gum of prodigious dimensions. The most famous tree in Errinundera today is ITEN, the sacred tree of Big Tree Camp. Errinundrians try to visit ITEN at least once during their lifetime.
- Boland, Brooker, Chippendale, Hall, Hyland, Johnston, Kleinig & Turner - Forest Trees of Australia
- Costermans - Trees of Victoria and Adjoining Areas
- Costermans - Native Trees of South-Eastern Australia
- Native Forests Action Council - The Forests of East Gippsland