W O R D S A N D P H O T O S : The purple clouds of flowers about at the moment are Jacarandas (Jacaranda mimosifolia). While many people seem to believe this is a native tree, Jacarandas originate from Brazil where they are deciduous; briefly dropping their leaves at the end of the dry season and then leafing up again when the rains come. Lovely as a shade tree for large gardens and parks as they can spread as much as their height of 10-15m. For the most reliable blue colour and faster-flowering look for grafted plants. Other than some formative pruning while they’re young, avoid pruning Jacarandas. Pruning tends to create spindly vertical shoots. The normal shape for a jacaranda is that of an elegant umbrella.
WHAT TO PLANT
Pom-pom Bush is botanically Calliandra haematocephala. The specific name means blood-head in reference to the colour of the flowers. This is a very hardy, easy to grow shrub which grows to a couple of metres tall and has spectacular flowers. They often flush with their deep pink to red-tipped fluffy blooms. These don’t last more than a few days, but they are well worth growing. Honeyeater birds also favour them.
Once to know a plant as Lagunaria meant it was Lagunaria patersonia. Prior to 2006 there was only one species (there were two subspecies), growing naturally in coastal Queensland (and maybe northern NSW) and on the two islands of Norfolk Island and Lord Howe. Currently the mainland plants are Lagunaria queenslandica. Those of the island populations are known as L. patersonia. The Queensland pyramid tree (Lagunaria queenslandica) can be distinguished from Norfolk Island hibiscus (Lagunaria patersonia) by its cup-shaped floral bracts that are quickly shed.
Nauclea orientalis (Leichhardt tree) is a grand tree from 10 to 25m tall so it is too large from most urban gardens. Almost every creek or river crossing from Townsville to Cairns has one gracing its banks. The distinct flowers are borne in golf-ball sized heads and carry a pleasant perfume. This tree is deciduous in dry conditions.
POWDER PUFF BUSH
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NAUCLEA ORIENTALIS FLOWER
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