Aussie man baffled by 'balls of goo' oozing from tree: 'Never seen this before'

It's a common sight with the native Illawarra Flame Tree and often happens after rain.

A man was baffled after noticing something strange "oozing" from a tree while visiting a town in NSW last week, and while the first thought might be regular tree sap for some, this was certainly something different.

"Could someone tell me what is happening here?" the perplexed man said on social media, sharing a video he'd taken in Taree. "All of these slimy balls of goo are all over the ground and oozing from the trunk of this flame tree."

The video shows a slimy mess on the ground at the base of the Illawarra Flame Tree — a native tree famous for its bright red bell-shaped flowers. But as the man pans up with his camera he reveals the almost-transparent blobs that are attached to the tree trunk too. "I have never seen this before," he admitted.

Pile of goo on the grass at the base of an Illawarra flame tree.
A man was baffled after discovering a slimy goo 'oozing' from a tree in Taree, NSW. Source: Facebook

Tree goo explained by expert

Turns out there's a simple explanation and it's a pretty normal sight after stints of rain, Brett Summerell, Chief Botanist with the Australian Institute of Botanical Science revealed.

"I have seen this before in Illawarra Flame trees and related species," he told Yahoo News Australia. The native trees can be found along the east coast of Australia.

"They excrete the goo from the seed pods, growing points and through any cracks or fissures in the stem and branches," he continued. "The trees appear to do this as a way of coping with very wet soils and protracted wet weather conditions."

"It does not appear to harm the tree and is not harmful to humans or other animals," he added. "As far as I know no one knows what the gel is composed of."

The Australian native tree often drops the slimy substance after heavy rainfall. Source: Getty/Reddit
The Australian native tree often drops the slimy substance after heavy rainfall. Source: Getty/Reddit

Sydney woman stumped by 'jellyfish' in front yard

The discovery stumped others on Facebook who agreed it looked odd as suggestions came rolling in. "It's a type of sap I think", one suggested in the comments. "Too much water," said another.

The same thing happened to a Sydney woman last year who was baffled after discovering what she thought were jellyfish in her front yard, despite living some 1km away from the closest body of water. Turns out, the Illawarra Flame tree in her garden was to blame.

Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.