Friday, August 31, 2012

Crazy Melaleucas: Palisades Park

Anyone who has visited Santa Monica's Palisades Park will be familiar with these extraordinary,  trees- trees that don't grow vertical, as we expect trees to grow, but sprawl horizontally all over the grass.  They are Pink Melaleucas, or Western Tea Myrtles, natives of Australia and a member of the extensive Eucalyptus family- the Melaleucas themselves including over 100 species.

Apparently they get their name from the Greek words melas meaning black and leucas meaning white, because in the bush fires of Australia their trunks would be blackened while the upper branches remained white.  Needless to say, the Palisade's ones are neither black nor white but I find their strange, twisted bark incredibly sculptural:





Apart from the wonderful shapes these trees make, they also cause wonderful shadows:




The rhythmical, compex flow of their lines brings to (my) mind some of Leonardo's studies of the movement of water:







Now this one- contrary to what I said earlier- is quite black, but from age rather than fire I guess:


I am often surprized how trees with extra-tough looking bark can produce delicate flowers.  The Pink Melaleuka has a profusion of these charming little pink or lilac "pom-poms":


These result in strange cone-like clusters of seeds:


For those who don't know Palisades Park, it is high up on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, which often forms a backdrop for the trees:


If you are there around sunset, you can catch them with the reflective glow:



And then if you turn West towards the Ocean you will find the shapes of the Melaleucas making endless "windows" through which to see both sun and sea:




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