Sharp eyed travelers often notice some scruffy looking trees flowering bright yellow along the Stuart Highway particularly at the end of the year.
Xanthostemon paradoxus is a tree reaching perhaps 10 metres in height.
It's rough grey bark and thick green leaves are well designed to protect it from water loss in our tough environment.
This helps it to survive in the very well drained sandy gravel and shallow soils of the open woodland and sandstone country where it is often found halfway up a stony slope.
Its big bright yellow flowers are full of nectar and will flower on and off, providing an excellent food source for many birds and bees.
Open woodlands and hillsides are sunny places with trees and shrubs spaced widely apart from one another and tall native grasses like Sorghum and Spinifex.
These grasses dry out quickly, becoming brown and brittle and will carry fires for many kilometres in the dry season.
Plants growing in such an environment need to be able to withstand the effects of fire.
Xanthostemon has tough bark protecting new growth buds on its trunk and leaves that are held at the end of twisted branches up above the flames of many fires occurring early in the year. It can survive much of what the world throws at it.
The fire story is an incredibly complex one. Things such as rainfall, the amount of burnable material lying around, temperature, wind speed, soil moisture and the time since the last fire, change each event and the effect that it has on the environment.
A fire travels relatively gently through an area late in the wet season, trickling along burning the dry grass lying on the ground.
Later in the year when temperatures are high and the dry wind blows strongly, the results of a fire can be very different.
Protecting the environment from a late dry season fire starts at the end of the wet.
Rangers carry out extensive fire management on our Parks and Reserves each year to try to stop hot, late season fires.
No one wants to be out fighting fires when the temperature is 40 degrees and a fire at that time of year is dangerous to plants and animals as well as people and property.
Give Rangers a hand this year by taking care with fire.
Even a smouldering cigarette butt thrown from a car window can start a huge fire storm given the right conditions.
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