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Week 7—13
May 2018

MKW18 7—13 May

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Familiar flora, allergies and the future of Melbourne’s urban forest

Published Tue 4 September | by Fury

An illustrated exploration of Melbourne's relationship with its most familiar sidewalk companion – the plane tree.

Watercolour painting of the tops of a plane tree with blue sky in the background. Text overlaying says 'If you have been to Melbourne, this will be a familiar sight.'

Watercolour painting of two cars in traffic. You can see the trunk a the tree between them on the sidewalk. Text overlay says 'Planted as early as the 1880s plane trees were the perfect choice for the city as they perform well in urban environments and air pollution.'

Watercolour painting of a person wearing a black t-shirt, from the neck up, coughing. In the background is a brick wall and pavement, with the trunk of a tree coming from the ground below and some grass in the background. Text reads: 'If you have been to Melbourne in September you will know why they are infamous.'

Watercolour painting of black lines and smudges, to represent microscopic hairs on on the leaves of a tree. Text reads: 'The throat itch, the watery eyes, the runny nose – some people believe these are caused by microscopic hairs on the plane tree's leaves called trichomes.'

Watercolour painting of pollen building up around a storm water drain. Text reads: 'The reaction could also be caused by heavy pollen in spring. The trust is, we don't know.'

Watercolour painting of a woman looking out off a balcony, a tree canopy above her, and dots of green and yellow representing pollen and grasses in the air around her. Text reads: 'In 2006-7 there was a study in Sydney testing to find the cause of these reactions. Far from a smoking gun, the study showed that everyone who was allergic to plane trees were also allergic to grasses present in the air.'

A screenshot of a Facebook post from 'No More Plane Trees Sydney' that reads 'Rally today! Don't forget your chainsaws!' on a watercolour blue background. text on the right had side reads: 'Disclaimer: No More Plane Trees Sydney don't have a Facebook group, haven't marched to my knowledge - but they do exist.)' and other text above and below the post says: 'Despite the ambiguity, many people revile plane trees. And they will be pleased to hear that they will be a much less common sight in the future.'

Watercolour painting of leaves and branches of a plane tree up close. Text reads: 'Plane trees make up 74% of trees in central Melbourne. Reliance on any one species makes the urban forest vulnerable to pests, disease and the pressures of climate change.'

Watercolour painting of hands of different skin tones holding branches of different plants. Text reads 'To increase biodiversity, as plane trees reach the end of their lives, City of Melbourne is looking to replace many of them with trees from Mexico, California and Queensland (among others).'

Watercolour painting showing a person reading sitting against a tree in a park, with grass all around the ground. Text reads: 'Trees are vital for a thriving city. They offer shade, cool the air and stop roads and sidewalks from trapping heat. Trees also play a big part in the emotional connections we have to a city. '

Watercolour painting of branches of trees, with different coloured flowers and leaves. Text reads: 'So it gives me great joy to think of what will feel familiar in Melbourne in the future.'

Fury is a writer and illustrator, based in Melbourne. Their debut graphic novel I Don’t Understand How Emotions Work is about the corruption of memory and time. It will be launched early 2019.

Melbourne’s weather has always kept us on our toes – but now rising temperatures are changing our seasons in new ways. How are these changes affecting Melbourne’s plant and animal life? From thunderstorm asthma to biodiversity, the study of phenology holds valuable insights for the future of our city. To join the conversation about how seasonal changes are affecting Melbourne, come to the Melbourne Conversations event, Seasons Out Of Sync: Vital Signs of a Warming City, on Monday 24 September.

Read more about the allergy study in Sydney here.

Explore Melbourne’s more than 70,000 trees on  the Urban Forest Visual tool, where you can learn more about the issues facing Melbourne’s greenery.

Pollen Forecast is a national resource that provides a 6 day forecast of pollen in Melbourne. Visit their website for more information about pollen counts and allergies.

Seasons out of sync: Vital Signs of a Warming City

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