St Leonards Moonah tree earns state-level recognition
A 90-year-old tree gracing the St Leonards foreshore has recently achieved recognition at the state level.
The Moonah tree, situated in the Foreshore Reserve opposite 365 The Esplanade, has earned its place on the National Trusts of Australia Register of Significant Trees.
National Trust Environmental Heritage Advocate Jelena Ljubisic said the tree had several defining attributes. “This tree is a large and mature specimen of a species that has become increasingly rare,” she said.
“It stands as one of the finest examples of a Moonah tree in the state of Victoria, boasting remarkable health. The well-protected root zone contributes to the tree’s structurally sound condition and its maturity adds to the landscape’s character.”
Ms Ljubisic said that coastal Moonah woodlands have significantly diminished, with only remnants remaining.
“Really good specimens are hard to find now. It is possibly one of the healthiest and best-looking Moonah trees remaining in Victoria.”
“What makes the costal Moonah so special is its wider importance to the coastal ecosystem.”
“It prevents erosion of the sand dunes and other threatened plant species—such as the Coast Bitter-bush—rely on the healthy structure that these trees provide.”
As the national trust is a nongovernment organisation a listing doesn’t afford the tree any statuary protection.
“We reach out to councils regarding the trees on our register, encouraging them to consider legal protection,” Ms Ljubisic said.
Scientifically named Melaleuca Lanceolata, and commonly known as the black paperbark, the Moonah is native to Australia, specifically the southern coastal regions and indigenous to the Bellarine region.
Densely foliaged with rough bark, the Moonah flowers prolifically in summer, showcasing clusters of small, soft white flowers. Its limbs often take on a twisted and sculptural appearance.
The Moonah isn’t the only famous tree on the Bellarine.
In October, a Moreton Bay fig in Portarlington, 10 minutes down the road, secured the third spot in the 2023 Victorian Tree of the Year Awards.
The glorious fig has been standing tall on Batman Road for over 150 years.
Ms Ljubisic said the Moonah has definite potential to be nominated for a future tree of the year award.
For further details and to appreciate the significance of this Moonah Tree or the Moreton Bay fig, you can visit trusttrees.org.au.