Leaves have pores (stomata) that let in the carbon dioxide they need to make food. However, when the pores are open they also let water out. Striking a balance between these processes is a challenge for plants living in Australia’s dry environment. Gum trees have adapted to water limitation by having large air spaces around the leaf cells so they can make the most of the carbon dioxide that gets into the leaf when the pores are open. The carbon dioxide is the basic building block of the starch that fuels the tree’s growth. These adaptations allow the gum trees to thrive in our dry conditions.

The longest cell in this image is 51 micrometres long (1 micrometre is one thousandth of a millimetre).

Image: Minh Huynh, Elinor Goodman and Margaret Barbour

The painting is about our people connecting to the land and water and how they traveled from place to place. The circles are my interpretation of each clan and how they travel teaching culture.

Artist: Sharon Smith