The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

May Gibbs was the fa­mous Aus­tralian bush artist, car­toon­ist, il­lus­tra­tor and sto­ry­teller. Her work was tem­pered by many things, most no­tably the Aus­tralian bush.

So much so that she named one of her fa­mous sto­ries af­ter the nuts found on a eu­ca­lyp­tus tree.

is one of the best chil­dren’s sto­ries to re­visit or in­tro­duce to your kids for its af­fec­tion for the Aus­tralian bush, along with sto­ries told in the style of (Nor­man Lind­say), (Dorothy Wall) and other fa­mous Aus­tralian writ­ers of the bush and our cul­ture.

But it is the gum­nuts I’m in­ter­ested in. Many eu­ca­lypts have been shifted into a re­cently new genus called Co­rym­bia and many are eas­ily iden­ti­fied by their pro­duc­tion of gum­nuts, the re­sult of the fin­ished flower, which are of­ten pink, orange, red and white. The flower leaves its seed be­hind af­ter a spec­tac­u­lar show of coloured brushes that are nec­tar rich, and clus­tered brushes with a hard case shaped like cap­sules that hold the fine seed and have a mem­brane across the top wait­ing for ma­tu­rity and later, dis­per­sal.

You would be fa­mil­iar with a ‘gum­nut’ that is used as a small street tree in the city of Cairns and across the Table­lands, and grows wild on those dry sa­van­nah soils.

These Co­rym­bias are the blood­woods that have eu­ca­lypt as their for­mer first name. The one you see in the street here is Co­rym­bia pty­chocarpa, which is com­monly known as the ‘Swamp Blood­wood’. True to form, most blood­woods are some­what strag­gly but re­deem them­selves when they flower.

Oth­ers that will grow in these parts are a cou­ple of new hy­brid va­ri­eties – some­one has crossed the Swam Blood­wood with the Western Aus­tralian na­tive C. fi­ci­fo­lia to cre­ate new small trees that bear ver­mil­lion red, orange and deep pink flower brushes. And, the good thing is they only grow to about 5m.

Look for these: Sum­mer Red (red flow­ers), Sum­mer Beauty (soft pink), Sum­mer Glory (hot pink), Orange Splen­dour (orange flow­ers) and Sum­mer Snow (ob­vi­ously white). The Swamp Blood­wood should be in nurs­eries as too will the oth­ers, so check them out.

They need lit­tle care and at­ten­tion and, like all things Aus­tralian, are tough and can sur­vive ne­glect (an­other good rea­son to have hun­dreds in our streets, even if they can some­time be a bit brit­tle in wind). They are well worth a spot in a gar­den some­where.

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