The Gallipoli Holly Oak project is a very important tree project happening which I think Australians will be interested in. It will commemorate the Gallipoli campaign in World War I, and is being undertaken by Victorian Branch of the National Trust of Australia and the Victorian Government Veterans Affairs Department.
In May this year, the Veterans Affairs Department announced a $10,000 grant from the Veterans Council Grants Program to help support the propagation of 2000 juvenile oaks. The Trust is trying to collect 2000 acorns, propagating them and then giving them out to Victorian Primary Schools to be planted in their grounds as part of the commemorative ceremonies in 2015 of the ANZAC’s landing at Gallipoli Cove. This project will run between 2015 and 2018; as the trees develop they will be given to schools who have registered to be involved in the project. To register your school, log onto the National Trust Project Registration.
Gallipoli campaign took place between the 25th April 2015 and the 9th January 1916 on the Gallipoli Peninsular, which today we know as south-west Turkey. While the Australian soldier’s were fighting, many of them collected acorns as mementos of their fallen buddies and of Gallipoli itself. Even General Sir John Monash collected some sending them home to his wife. They covered the surrounding hillsides and Monash described them as a species of holly, which inflicted nasty scratches on the soldier’s hands, arms and knees. He noticed they produced an acorn, thus concluded they belong to the Oak family. Another chap, Captain William Lampriere Winter-Cooke, took some home and planted them at his family home Murndal, which is near Hamilton in Western Victoria. To read more about this particular oak log onto Heritage Victoria.
Over time, Capitan Winter-Cooke’s tree produced acorns which were planted in other places such as the Shrine in Melbourne, Geelong Grammar (Registered with Heritage Victoria) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. It is also hoped that more acorns that we don’t know about were planted around Victoria. (*See below)
The Gallipoli oak is Quercus calliprinos (Palestine oak) which is a large shrub or small tree and grows between 5-18 metres. If it is heavily grazed by goats it grows between 1 and 3 metres. To increase the project’s success the National Trust has broadened the definition of the Gallipoli oak to include Quercus coccifera and Quercus coccifera subsp. calliprinos. Quercus coccifera (Kermes oak) is a scrubby shrub that grows to about 2 metres and Quercus coccifera subsp. calliprinos which is describe as a subspecies of coccifera grows into a beautiful tree. They are all very closely related to each other and it is hard to distinguish them from each other.
John Fordham is one of the arborists involved in the project and while he and his wife were overseas last year, they were out scouring the hills of Montenegro to collect acorns when they inadvertently wandered into a mined field. Luckily one of the locals who was driving by wound down his window and warned John. Needless to say both he and his wife got the hell out of there pretty quickly.
Of course any acorns brought in, have to get permission from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. It is unfortunate they have to go through a fumigation process to kill any diseases or insects that might hitch-hike into Australia which might cause us problems as this results in very poor strike rate.
*So, if you know of any Gallipoli oaks, that you don’t think the Trust know about, please let them know. Collecting 2000 acorns is a big challenge.
To find out more about this project log onto the National Trust Gallipoli Oaks Project.