The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - GARDEN EYE - W O R D S : K AT E H E F F E R N A N Kate Hef­fer­nan is a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist, ed­u­ca­tor and honorary life mem­ber of Friends of the Gold Coast Re­gional Botanic Gar­dens. You can lis­ten to her ra­dio show Gar­den Talk­back on ABC 91.7FM. Kate has al­most com­pleted a b

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!

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