Have you ever met a 300-year old bum?
The iconic 'Bum Tree' on the road verge near the intersection of Beach and Gerroa roads, felled in 2014, was recently found to have been between 334 and 388 years old, Berry Landcare says.
"In the midst of conflicting claims about the age and value of the tree, Berry Landcare began a project to salvage a sample 'slice' of the trunk and accurately determine the tree's age," a group spokesperson said.
"The objective was to provide a record for future research, and reference data to assist future decisions in managing old-growth trees. The Shoalhaven City Council agreed to fund project costs."
The group salvaged part of the stump, and volunteers spent hours preparing the sample.
After felling, close inspection of the stump revealed the tree originally had two trunks, and at some time in its early life, one of these had fallen, and the resulting overgrowth across the scar had formed the infamous burl.
"An analysis of the rings, combined with radiocarbon dating, was then conducted by Dr Matthew Brookhouse at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University," said a Berry Landcare spokesperson.
"The analysis concluded that the Bum Tree probably germinated sometime between 1626 and 1680 CE. This places the tree well before European knowledge of the Australian continent and makes it a contemporary of the British monarch Charles II."
The polished trunk sample will soon be on permanent display at the Berry Museum. The salvaged burl can be seen at the Shoalhaven Heads pool complex.
Berry Landcare project director, Kelvin Officer said the group hoped the knowledge would help inform future management decisions about old-growth vegetation in the Shoalhaven.
"Rather than felling, greater effort in road design and resource allocation is justified in the retention of such ancient trees, for the benefit of our environment and our appreciation of it," he said.
"The Bum Tree was situated within the Berry Corridor, an important wildlife corridor between the coast and the hinterland, and the retention of similar habitat trees should be a high priority into the future."
Berry Landcare encourage landholders to protect and connect their existing patches of bush. Landholders interested in funding support can contact Bush Connect Project Officer, David Rush by email: email@example.com or phone 0418 977 402.