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.