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ESCARPMENT ECOSYSTEMS

Here is an outline of three common Escarpment Ecological Communities

Photo: Turpentine trees on Mount Ousley

 
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WET SCLEROPHYLL (TALL EUCALYPT) FOREST

The foothills and lower slopes of the escarpment tend to be dominated by Wet Sclerophyll forests, with tall Eucalypts and an understorey of rainforest trees. The most common Eucalypts include Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis), Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculata), and what is sometimes called the ‘Wollongong Woollybutt’ (a hybrid of Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna) and Bangalay (Eucalyptus botryoides)). The most common rainforest trees include Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum) and Murrogun (Cryptocarya microneura). She-oaks (Casaurina and Allocasaurina), Wattles (Acacia), and Turpentines (Syncarpia glomulifera) are also common.


Photo: Blackbutt trees in Wet Sclerophyl Forest on Brokers Nose

 
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SUBTROPICAL RAINFOREST

In some of the gullies of the escarpment, and especially on the benches, one finds Illawarra-Shoalhaven Subtropical Rainforest, a critically endangered ecological community found only on the south coast of NSW. (A ‘bench’ is a bit like a shelf; a long narrow strip of relatively level land running along the escarpment with steeper slopes above and below it.) Subtropical rainforests are extremely biodiverse, and one may find thirty or more different species of trees in one relatively small patch. Common  tree species include the Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius), Giant Stinging Tree (Dendrocnide excelsa), Churnwood (Citronella moorei), Native Tamarind (Diploglottis australis), Red Cedar (Toona ciliata), and a number of fig species including the Moreton Bay Figtree (Ficus macrophylla). Patches of this subtropical rainforest are often small and surrounded by Warm Temperate rainforest.

Photo: Moreton Bay Fig tree in Subtropical Rainforest near to Mt Keira

 
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WARM TEMPERATE RAINFOREST

In various places on the escarpment, especially on the upper slopes, one finds Warm Temperate Rainforest. This is a much simpler type of rainforest than Subtropical Rainforest, with fewer species. Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum) is often the most common tree, but Lillypilly (Syzygium smithii), Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras), and Grey Myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia) are also very common.

Photo: Coachwood trees and Cabbage Tree palms in Warm Temperate Rainforest on Mt Keira