Climbing the giant karri trees of WA

By Karen McGhee November 29, 2013
Reading Time: < 1 Print this page
Deep in the ancient forests of south-west WA are thought to lurk gigantic karri trees, taller than any yet recorded

THE TALLEST TREES currently alive on the planet are pines: giant coast redwoods (Sequoia sepervirens) that live for more than 1000 years. They occur naturally only in a narrow strip in northern California, and the tallest living individual – ‘Hyperion’ – stands just over 115m tall in the state’s Redwood National Park.

The tallest flowering tree species, however, is the mountain ash (E. regnans), which grows in Victoria and Tasmania. Its status was confirmed in 2008 with a reading of almost 100m, taken using an airborne laser (LIDAR), on a tree called ‘The Centurion’, south-west of Hobart.

Experts believe, however, there are likely to be karris almost as tall and if they could be found, they’d confirm Western Australia’s tallest species of tree is also the world’s second tallest flowering tree.

Karri is a prized hardwood thought to live for 300 years in the right conditions, and in past centuries it’s been logged extensively. It’s the tallest of a suite of remarkable eucalypt species – including jarrah (E. marginata), marri (Corymbia calophylla) and three different types of tingle (E. jacksonii, E. guilfoylei and E. brevistylis) – that grow only in Australia’s far south-west and nowhere else in the world. Karri forests now cover less than 200,000ha, about one-fifth of which is virgin growth, and most of it is managed by DEC.

Highway One: the Diamond Tree
Trees have biological clocks
End of the line for our biggest trees?
Wordl’s tallest flowering plants more fireproof?
Carved trees bring indigenous history to life