Have you ever gone for a drive on a country road in South East Queensland through pockets of dry rainforest and thought- wow, what is that evocative tantalising scent? It smells like a conglomerate of plant scents combined, which seem to be naturally characteristic when visiting our local hinterland rainforest creeks and waterways. Sometimes the aroma can be overpowering, especially after recent rainfall and while the scent is relished by some, others may find the smell rather pungent and unpleasant. Personally, I love the aroma, especially when the odour seems empowered during the cool morning walks or when driving through mountain ranges after recent rainfall. It is like experiencing natures breath to me and always triggers my memories and feelings of previous visits walking amongst nature. It was not until some years later though when I was studying horticulture, I learned that the particular aroma I was experiencing was mainly attributed and produced by just one species of rainforest plant: Mallotus claoxyloides, which is aptly referred to as- “The Smell of the Bush”.
The ‘Smell of the Bush’ or Green Kamala:
Mallotus claoxyloides or Green Kamala (The smell or scent of the bush) is a common small tree or shrub that grows to 8 metres tall in its natural dry rainforest environment and hails from Northern NSW through to Northern QLD hinterland areas. Green Kamala can be a rather straggly unassuming understorey specimen with rough - mildly serrated green leaves which may seem like an ordinary scrubby plant when you come across it in the wild, but their alluring scent is somehow mysteriously dissipated as one gets closer to the plant, the aroma seems wafted away to the outskirts of its location like a stealth cloud, but the scent is more prevalent after rainfall. I will always love this ‘smell of the bush’ aroma, as it definitely always contributes to my rainforest experience indeed. There are a couple of lovely specimens growing in gardens on Bribie island. See if you can smell your way! Have you got one growing in your garden on Bribie Island or surrounding districts?