Mystery solved–a tree from Gondwanaland

Thanks to the excellent information provided by blog readers, the mystery tree from the last post has been identified as a Silky Oak (Gravellia robusta), a native of Australia, like the eucalyptus, that has been introduced all over the world for the many uses it serves.

Silky Oak, Grevillea robusta

It is not an oak, but a member of the same family of plants that is commonly found in South Africa (Proteaceae).  How did plants get from South Africa to Australia, you ask?  Well, the Southern Hemisphere continents were once connected and part of a super-continent called Gondwanaland, at a time when members of the Proteaceae family were well distributed throughout the large land mass.  Thus, ancestors of the Silky Oak pre-dated the southern continental break-up that began 200 million years ago.

Fast growing, evergreen, with attractive fern-like foliage and wood that is resistant to rot, Silky Oak was originally planted in various areas of the world to use in woodworking.  It’s bright golden orange flowers and copious nectar production attract a variety of bees and birds, and apparently, some Acorn woodpeckers prefer this tree as a nest site over the native Live Oak (judging from the birds I watched the other day).

One woodpecker collected some gum-like residue from the trunk of a silky Oak.

One woodpecker collected some gum-like residue from the trunk of a Silky Oak.  Is this food?

At least two, possibly three woodpeckers continually stopped by this nest hole, quickly hopping in and out again.  I couldn't see what they might have been feeding chicks, but it wasn't acorns.

At least two, possibly three woodpeckers continually stopped by this nest hole, quickly hopping in and out again. I couldn’t see what they might have been feeding chicks, but it wasn’t acorns.

A large wound on the left side of the tree is weeping resin.  Woodpecker damage?

A large wound on the left side of the tree is weeping resin. Woodpecker damage?

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