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I knew that I was very unlikely to find this species growing wild. Its home ground is in the Top End of Australia, far to the north of Cairns. This is a difficult region in which to travel and I had no botanical contacts there, so I decided to leave it off my itinerary. However, the Australian Virtual Herbarium listed a few semi-cultivated specimens around Atherton, a few hours drive inland from Cairns. The Atherton Tablelands sounded interesting, so I made arrangements to visit two of the locations listed for Citrus garrawayi. See the bottom of this page.
This tree is probably a seedling or sucker from the original, large, fruiting tree that existed before the cyclone. At that time there were reports of fruiting seedlings.
As you can see in my current photo, a small seedling or sucker is growing a short distance away from the horizontal tree.
At the botanic garden in Rockhampton I spoke to an official who confirmed no C. garrawayi trees remained in Kershaw Gardens, but nevertheless I decided to take a look.
It was a very hot day but I followed the edge of the fence which marked the cyclone remediation works. I could see this path would finally be completely blocked and I almost turned back.
At the last moment I found a small tree lying on its side exactly at the fence line. To my delight there was no doubt this was Citrus garrawayi - looking perfectly healthy even though growing on its side! New vertical growth was starting along the main stem and there were even a few tiny fruits.
Rockhampton Regional Council look after Kershaw Park and the post-cyclone work. I have contacted them and asked that this quite rare tree is looked after!
I considered by-passing Rockhampton, but in the end it remained on my planned itinerary. It proved to be an interesting town located right on the Tropic of Capricorn, and with an outstanding botanic garden. It also had a hospital which came in useful when I realised I had a live tick well-embedded in my chest! (see finding C. australis)
I only have these two small, low definition pictures of the trees before Cyclone Marcia.
Years before my trip I was told there were several mature fruiting Citrus garrawayi trees in the Kershaw Gardens at Rockhampton, Queensland. A visit would fit nicely into my planned itinerary between Bundaberg and Cairns.
But when I contacted Rockhampton Regional Council, I was told that all the C. garrawayi trees had been destroyed in cyclone Marcia in February 2015. Moreover, much of Kershaw Gardens was now out-of-bounds due to asbestos being revealed from former landfill use.
This is the caterpillar of papilio anactus, the Dainty Swallowtail or Dingy Swallowtail butterfly. It is known to feed on all citrus species - including this Citrus garrawayi.
See Bobs Butterflies.
page created 16Dec2016, added to 21Mar2017
"The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia. CSIRO's Atherton laboratory is located in the heart the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, 80 km south-west of Cairns. This Tropical Forest Research Centre features a rainforest arboretum."
The quote above is taken from CSIRO's website, but there appears to be little other information online about the arboretum. However, the Australian Virtual Herbarium data confirmed the arboretum included a specimen of Citrus garrawayi, so I contacted CSIRO who were happy for me to visit. With the assistance of CSIRO staff, we located the tree in the north-east corner of the arboretum. Perhaps around 8m tall, it was difficult to get a good photo due to the strong shadows and other trees nearby.
On the right is my photo, and below is a Google streetview image from Grove Street, Atherton, also dated November 2016. Although from the road and at a slightly different angle, the same brown-leaved fallen branch is clearly visible in both pictures.
The red marker shows the position of the tree in the Atherton Rainforest Arboretum.
GPS location -17.257801, 145.485528
There were a few misshappen and distorted yellow fruit still on the tree, but it appeared that the main crop must have matured some weeks earlier. I found several complete but rotten fruits on the ground, the largest about 6cms long. I saved the seeds from these fruits.
KERSHAW GARDENS, ROCKHAMPTON
The leaves, varying from diamond-shaped to elliptical, had sooty mold from insect droppings. Tiny flower buds were just forming, as well as a few small fruitlets.
Nearby, I found a couple of young seedlings pushing through the plentiful leaf litter.