Mallee Country: Land, people, history
Monash University Publishing, $39.95 pb, 429 pp, 9781925523126
Mallees contradict the green pompom-on-a-stick notion of treeness. The word ‘mallee’ stems from the Wemba Wemba word ‘mali’ for a form of eucalyptus tree; one with a shrubby habit with a multi-stemmed trunk branching out from a lignotuber (a woody life-support system at or below the ground). Highly adapted to challenging environments, more than 400 species of the genus Eucalyptus are considered mallee. The diverse and unique ecosystems that they define evolved within the bewildering contexts of aridity, salinity, heat and wind exposure, and soils devoid of nutrients.