ENJOY SPLASH OF COLOUR
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE MANY FLOWERING SUBTROPICAL TREES IN OUR REGION AS THE WARMER NIGHTS LEAD TO LOVELY BLOSSOMS
As soon as the first hint of warm nights commence in southeast Queensland the vibrant red subtropical flowering trees begin a procession of stunning flowers. It lasts all through summer.
One of the first to flower is the incredible North Queensland Waratah, Alloxylon flammeum. This spectacular flowering tree has deep glossy green foliage which is a perfect background for the 75mm clusters of red flowers at the ends of its branches.
Its natural habitat is in the high altitude rainforests of Far North Queensland where it is at risk of extinction, and is listed as vulnerable by the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Its equally outstanding close relative is the Dorrigo Waratah, Alloxylon pinnatum. It also grows on the mountains, but is limited to the Dorrigo Plateau behind Coffs Harbour and the McPherson Ranges between New South Wales and Queensland. It is listed under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act as Near Threatened in the wild. It is only in the wild that they are rare, and neither of these threatened species listings prevent the Queensland Dorrigo Waratah being planted into larger gardens and public spaces. They should be available at specialist native nurseries on the Gold Coast, Brisbane or in the Northern Rivers.
If the brilliant red of flowers doesn’t strike your attention first, the raucous noise and antics of parrots intoxicated by the rich fermented nectar in the Parrot Tree, Schotia brachypetala, certainly will. Schotia often sheds its leaves just prior to flowering, resulting in the deep crimson flower panicles being very prominent until the new bronze foliage fills in the gaps.
From South Africa, the Parrot Tree was popular in Queensland’s colonial public landscapes, and was later made popular in Brisbane again by Harry Oakman, director of Parks and Gardens in Brisbane for 17 years from 1963. A Fellow of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Oakman was a prolific writer and gardener, and is revered by all horticulture and landscape professionals for his contribution to the Brisbane city landscape.
Another brilliant red flowering tree native to the drier rainforests of southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales was first recorded by botanist and plant explorer Allan Cunningham in 1828. He found it growing on the banks of the Brisbane River. The Queensland Firewheel Tree, Stenocarpus sinuatus, is grown widely across similar climates, including California where it is often used as a street tree. Its common name comes from the arrangements of its flowers into a wheel, each tipped with golden yellow.
Every visitor to Queensland would like to take home a Poinciana, Delonix regia, after spending time under its shade during summer. A broad spreading tree now found growing right across all subtropical and tropical regions, its natural home is the island of Madagascar. Described by many as the most brilliant of all flowering trees, its wide canopy is, as described by plantsman and photographer Stirling Macoboy, a fireworks display as it drops its foliage and flowers in shades of scarlet through to orange red.
The name Delonix comes from the Greek word for obvious — and this is one tree that cannot be missed. As it matures it develops buttresses to help support its sightly canopy that can grow up to 10m wide.
For those with large gardens and acreage, these are brilliant trees which will be enjoyed through several lifetimes. Those unable to plant should relish the environment and climate that allows the Gold Coast to feature these trees in parks and large gardens and in some cases as street trees. Enjoy!