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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

The Anlaby Commemorative Oaks: an Extraordinary Case of Multiple Ground- Layered Branches in Quercus canariensis Willd.

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Charlie Buttigieg

Published May 2014 in International Oaks No. 25: 93–102


Located beside a dry creek bed and originally fenced off in a farm paddock grazed by merino sheep for over one hundred years are three Algerian oaks (Quercus canariensis Willd.). These three Algerian oaks were planted in the winter of 1918 under the direction of Thomas Leslie, the former Head Gardener on behalf of the owners of Anlaby, one of South Australia’s most influential and significant pastoral properties. The Anlaby Commemorative Oaks were planted as a memorial to three farmworkers who went to fight in World War One and lost their lives. This story is certainly very significant in the context of Australia’s many sacrifices during the First World War but in November 2012 when I first examined these specimens another story, a botanical one, was apparent. A complex combination of human, environmental, biomechanical and biochemical factors or sequence of events has resulted in a behavior never seen before in this species of oak: numerous ground-layered branches that have grown their own root systems, yet are still attached to the mother tree via the original “umbilical” branches.


Algerian oak, Australia in World War One


1915. “Kapunda’s Soldiers. The Roll of Honour.” Kapunda Herald, Friday, May 14,

1918. “Soldiers Memorial Garden. To be planted in Dutton ” Kapunda Herald, Friday, November 15,

Geoffrey Dutton , Out in the Open (Australia: Brisb, 1994), 26

1936. “Heavy ” Kapunda Herald, Friday, January 17, 2.