Small prickly oak trees, known in Australia as Gallipoli Oaks, grow along the ridges and valleys of the Gallipoli peninsula. Acorns were collected by several soldiers during the campaign and sent or brought back to Australia where some were subsequently planted.
General (Sir) John Monash wrote to his wife in November 1915:
“I am sending in a separate packet, a few acorns. I have made the discovery that the prickly scrub, with which these hills are covered, and which has inflicted many an unkind scratch on hands, arms and bare knees, is really a species of holly, and bears an acorn, showing that it belongs to the Oak variety. The bush is quite ornate and grows to a height of about 5 feet, much like the ordinary holly with the red berry.”
Captain William Lempriere Winter-Cooke also collected acorns and planted them in 1916 in Victoria at family property ‘Murndal’ near Hamilton in western Victoria. Several off-spring have been planted from this tree including those at Geelong Grammar, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. There are likely to be many trees from these sources growing across Victoria.
In May 2013, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) launched the Gallipoli Oaks Project. The National Trust will propagate up to 2000 Gallipoli Oak seedlings, and cooperate with local RSL Sub-branches to plant a Gallipoli Oak in Victorian primary school grounds during remembrance ceremonies in 2015-2018. The project will celebrate and preserve the heritage of the Gallipoli Oaks, bringing to life a symbolic link between the Centenary of ANZAC, the people of Turkey and the primary school children of Victoria.
The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) encourages all Victorian primary schools to register their interest on the project website:
http://www.gallipolioaks.org or http://www.nationaltrust.org.au/vic/GallipoliOaksProjectRegistration
About the Trees
Quercus coccifera subsp. calliprinos is a small to medium-sized tree or large shrub seldom reaching more than 5m tall. It is evergreen, with spiny-serrated leaves 3 to 5 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm broad. The acorns are 2 – 3 cm long when mature about 18 months after pollination. As Quercus coccifera is clearly a closely related species the Trust has, for the purpose of this project, broadened the definition of Gallipoli Oak to include Quercus coccifera and Quercus coccifera subsp. calliprinos.
The trees will be propagated from acorns donated and collected from parent trees located in Australia and grown to a size suitable for planting by horticulture experts including tree growers.
Story: Peter Whitelaw