There are three species of tingle tree. The largest and most impressive is the Red Tingle tree (Eucalyptus jacksonii). The tingles all belong to the family of myrtles (Myrtaceae). The tingles, along with the karri, jarrah and tuart, are all unique to Western Australia and the group of four form the dominant tree species of the south west.
The Red Tingle is only found in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park in the lower catchment areas of the Frankland, Deep and Bow rivers. It is not found anywhere else in the world. This park is on the south coast of Western Australia. This huge tree is known as a buttressed tree. The base of the trunk has a huge girth, up to 24 metres. The tingle does grow as tall as the karri and has by far the largest base of all eucalypts. It is a rough-barked tree which may live for over 400 years.
The base of the tingle tree is often split and internally burnt out by bushfires or by fungal attack, leaving a huge hollow base. The Giant Tingle Tree near Walpole was hollowed out to the extent that a car could be driven through the trunk and many were the photographs taken showing vehicles under the massive tree. The Giant Tingle Tree eventually fell down several years ago.
The tingle grows to a height of 70 metres and has rough, stringy bark which is grey-brown in colour. The leaves are often curved and are 75 to 110mm long. They are a shiny dark green on the upper surface and paler underneath. The white blossoms are clustered in groups of seven. The bud has a rounded, conical cap and the fruits are roughly spherical and 6 to 8mm long. The tingle is sometimes used for construction work.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the south west of Western Australia is the Valley of the Giants which includes the Tingle Shelter, a visitor interpretation centre. The Valley has a large number of magnificent tingle trees, many of which are believed to be over 400 years old. The show piece of the Valley is the Tree Top Walk, a 600m long steel walkway that extends into the forest canopy amongst the tops of the tingles. The highest point is 40 metres above ground level. Part of the complex is the Ancient Empire Walk, a boardwalk winding its way around a grove of ancient tingles including one called the ‘Grandmother’. The trunks of the elderly tingles become gnarled and nobbled making it easy to imagine facial features in some of the trees.
While the boardwalk makes general, and wheelchair, access much easier, it also protects the trees. Over time, with thousands of visitors tramping round the bases of the trees, soil was being compacted round the root systems. This compaction was causing stress to the trees and the provision of a boardwalk was to relieve the situation.
The other species are the yellow tingle tree (Eucalyptus guilfoyle) and Rate’s tingle (Eucalyptus brevistylis), both of which do not have the girth of the red tingle. The yellow tingle is robust with a relatively short trunk and widely spreading branches. Heights reach to 35 metres. The bark is grey-brown, rough and crumbly. The buds have four faint ridges. Unlike the red tingle, the base is not buttressed. The yellow tingle is only found within or fringing karri forests, and often along creeks in low-lying areas.
Rate’s tingle is closely related to the Red Tingle but has more numerous and smaller buds. It grows in the karri forest between Walpole, Mt Frankland and Mt Lindesay and looks like a juvenile red tingle.
The south west area of Western Australia is the ideal place to view the ‘big five’ of the eucalypts – the tingles, karri and jarrah.