Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Paintings of the Florilegium

Hibiscus insularis Endl. (Family Malvaceae) 'The Phillip Island Hibiscus

The Australian Botanic Garden

Artist: Halina Steele

This attractive shrub or tree is endemic to Philip Island, a small area of land 6.4 km south of Kingston, Norfolk Island.

Unfortunately early settlers introduced pigs, goats and rabbits which have almost completely destroyed the dense vegetation reported by the early explorers. One of the plant treasures to survive (but only as a few trees) is this Hibiscus which is now being cultivated in various parks and botanic gardens of the world, ensuring this species survives.


Diploglottis campbellii Cheel (Family Sapindaceae) 'Native Tamarind'

The Royal Botanic Garden

Artist: Colleen Werner

In New South Wales this rare species is native to riverine rainforest in northern NSW from Richmond River to Tweed River, known as the Big Scrub area. It extends to southern Queensland in the Bunya Mountains. This species grows into a medium sized tree and is sometimes planted in parks and also as a street tree. It produces acidic fruits which have been used for preparing drinks and for making jam. The artist is particularly interested in rainforest species which she has propagated and has growing on her property near the Werrikimbee wilderness.



Atkinsonia ligustrina (Cunningham ex F. Muell.) F. Muell. (Family Loranthaceae)

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Artist: Delysia Jean Dunckley

This small woody shrub is the only species of Atkinsonia known and is named after Louisa Atkinson a great naturalist and botanical artist. This may be the first colour illustration made of the species. Its known distribution is confined to a small area in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Atkinsonia belongs to the Loranthaceae, a family with over 900 species in at least 65 genera and almost all known for their parasitic habit. This species is the living ancestor to all mistletoes in the world. It is reported that a single specimen of this species can parasitise the roots of a wide range of different species of nearby plants, so do not be tempted to cultivate it in your garden! The artist comments that the fragrance from the flowers filled the room as she painted.


Doryanthes excelsa Correa (Family Loranthaceae) 'Gymea Lily'

The Australian Botanic Garden

Artist: Deirdre Bean

One of eastern Australia’s most spectacular flowering plants extending from the Illawarra region to the northern coastal regions. The flower spike is up to 2.5 metres high and produced each year. The early botanical explorers must have been thrilled when they first observed this species in flower just as visitors arriving in Sydney today. This species is often planted in public areas and is clearly a hardy species tolerating a wide range of growing conditions. The artist has always been fascinated by this species as it was growing naturally in the area where she grew up.


Stenocarpus sinuatus Endl.  (Family Proteaceae) 'Firewheel Tree'

The Australian Botanic Garden

Artist: Angela Lober

A medium to large tree native to warmer rainforest in coastal areas north from Nambucca in New South Wales extending to the Macpherson Range in southern Queensland. This species was first collected by the pioneer plant collector, botanist and explorer, Robert Brown.

This is one of the most spectacular flowering trees; the circular arrangement of the flowers beautifully illustrated in this painting gives us the common name while the species name ‘sinuatus’ refers to the wavy leaves which show considerable variation in their vein patterns. This species is excellent for planting in parks as it is a large rainforest timber tree and needs considerable space for growth.

Angela Lober 

Gordonia axillaris (Family Theaceae)

THe Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Artist: Fiona McKinnon

This is a fragrant member of the tea family which also includes the usually non- fragrant and much more diverse genus CamelliaGordonia is a shrub or medium sized tree, native to the island of Taiwan and to Vietnam. It thrives in cultivation on acidic soils and makes an attractive garden plant especially with its beautiful white-fringed petals and the deep yellow or orange coloured mass of central stamens. Although its native habitat is sub-tropical woodland, it is now widely cultivated and tolerates much cooler climates. Additional colour is produced by its leaves some of which turn red.


Rosa mutabilis or Rosa chinensis mutabilis (Family Rosaceae) 'Butterfly Rose'

The Royal Botanic Garden

Artist: Narelle Thomas

The dark plum coloured shoots, thorns and young leaves give this rose a special quality but the flowers are even more striking; the slender, purple buds, open to display the petals, their colour best described as chamois yellow which within a day changes to a soft coppery pink and then on the third day deepens to a coppery crimson as they fall. This rose made its horticultural debut in 1934 introduced by the Swiss botanist Henri Correan. It is unknown whether the plant originated in China or was a created hybrid.


Dichorisandra thyrsifolia (Family Commelinaceae) 'Blue Ginger'

The Royal Botanic Garden

Artist: Beverly Allen

There are at least 35 species of Dichorisandra but this is the only one frequently grown by gardeners. Most are native to Brazil and this species has been in cultivation for over 100 years mostly as a glasshouse plant. However this plant thrives in Sydney, provided it has some of the comforts of its original tropical jungle environment, a warm sheltered site, with shade and a rich and fertile soil. Ginger is a misleading name for this spectacular plant which belongs to the very different family, the Spiderworts.


Pritchardia maideniana Beccari (Family Arecaceae) 'Maiden’s Pritchardia'

The Royal Botanic Garden

Artist: Julie Nettleton

This is one of the world’s rarest plants! It no longer exists in its natural environment.

It is said that Joseph Henry Maiden, Director of our Gardens 1896-1924, collected several plants when botanising in Hawaii. He may have collected it on some other Pacific Island for there are some 37 species in this genus scattered on various islands in the region. When our plants set seed it needs protection from predators, rats, birds and possums so that the seed can be distributed to other Botanic Gardens around the world ensuring the survival of this beautiful palm.

Julie Nettleton

Lilium auratum Lindl. (Family Liliaceae) 'Golden Rayed Lily or Mountain Lily'

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Artist: Tricia Oktober

Native to Japan this is one of the most beautiful and largest lilies in the world. It can grow up to 2 metres high and hold as many as 20 flowers. The flower colour is typically white, with gold radial markings, and orange spots and the flowers have a strong and spicy fragrance. The life span of this lily is short, only 3-4 years. It is therefore important to have this plant conserved in botanic gardens around the world. This lily is growing in the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.


Magnolia sieboldii K.Koch (Magnoliaceae) 'Siebold’s Magnolia' or 'Oyama Magnolia'

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Artist: Elaine Musgrave

Named after a German doctor, Phillipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866) an eye surgeon, whose medical expertise opened up to him otherwise forbidden parts of Japan in the 19th century. This Magnolia is the emblem of Korea and it is native there as well as China and Japan. It is a large shrub or small tree 5-10 metres high. The flowers are white with bright crimson stamens and a mild fruity perfume. They are cup-shaped and pendulous along the branches. This plant is well documented in cultivation and rare to the high mountain regions of its natural habitat.

Elaine Musgrave

Lapageria rosea Ruiz & Pavon (Family Philesiaceae) 'Copihue', 'Copiu', 'Chilean Bellflower'

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Artist: Annie Hughes

This plant is the national flower of Chile, the native country of the artist. A Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust collecting expedition in 1985 travelled to Pichirropulli, in the mountainous region of central Chile to collect the propagation material from the wild. Attempts to cultivate this beautiful vine in many different parts of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden have been successful. Our Copihue produced its first solitary flower in June 1998. An evergreen, twining climber with dark green, leathery leaves. It has bell-shaped, pale pink to red flowers from autumn to mid winter. The sweet, fleshy fruits are edible.

Annie Hughes

Sarracenia leucophylla Raf., 'White Pitcher Plant'

Sarracenia alata (Alph.Wood) Alph.Wood. 'West Coast Pitcher Plant' or 'Pale Pitcher Plant'

Unidentified species (Family Sarraceniaceae)

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Artist: Marion Westmacott

All the Sarracenia, are native to the New World and inhabit moist and low-nutrient Long-Leaf Pine, Pinus palustris savannas along the United States Gulf Coast generally west of the Apalachicola River on the Florida Panhandle. All species are under threat of the habitat becoming endangered due to the loss of its unique wetland habitat and the development along the Gulf Coast, as well as forest succession that was historically kept in check by fire. They have become vulnerable to poachers as well as interest from the floral trade, in which the cut autumn pitchers often find use in arrangements. S. leucophylla produces crimson flowers in the spring before its characteristically small spring pitchers. These are generally followed midsummer with flat non-carnivorous leaves known as phyllodia. The most robust and handsome pitchers are then produced in the early autumn. It is one of the largest and showiest Sarracenia species with its pitchers sometimes reaching almost 1 metre in height.


Epiphyllum crenatum (Lindl.)G.Don.f. (Family Cactaceae) 'Crenate Orchid Cactus'

The Royal Botanic Garden

Artist: Beverly Allen

Donated by Wendy Pratten and Susan Rothwell

Epiphyllum crenatum occurs from Mexico to Honduras and is a member of the cactus family that grows on, or is supported by, other vegetation. They grow in moist and wet forests at high altitudes. In cultivation they hybridise easily.

This painting was one of eight Epiphyllum and related species that the artist painted for the Royal Horticultural Society Botanical Paintings exhibit in January 2007. She was awarded a gold medal for the series of eight paintings. The specimen for this painting of Epiphyllum crenatum is from Ellensville near Camden, probably planted around 1890 and now a huge old plant. The Royal Botanic Garden here in Sydney still have several plants growing.


Zygopetalum mackaii Hook. (Family Orchidaceae) 'Mr Mackay’s Orchid'

The Royal Botanic Garden

Artist: Fiona McGlynn

First described in Curtis’s Magazine in 1827, this orchid is the first species described for this genus. It was imported by Mr. Mackay, of Dublin College Botanic Garden in that year along with a few other orchid species from Brazil. It is an epiphytic orchid with large fleshy roots and a large bulb. The flower spikes usually carry 5 or 6 very large and handsome flowers. The artist is donating a division of this plant to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney as it is part of a collection of orchids that she has inherited from her father.


Dendrobium engae x Dendrobium shiraishii

The Royal Botanic Garden

Artist: Beverley Allen

A hybrid of two New Guinea 'Latouria dendrobiums'.

This is one of the earlier flowering seedlings from a project to breed 'show-bench quality orchids' that would grow cold (ie without a glasshouse) in Sydney and other cities of similar latitudes.

Dendrobium shiraishii grows down to sea level in nature.

Dendrobium engae comes from 3000 m. Its cold tolerance has been inherited by the seedlings, which have been grown in an unheated orchid house with minimum winter temperatures from 4-0 degrees celsius.

This plant illustrated here was bred by Phil Spence (assisted by Ed Wilson) with the help of a grant from The Hermon Slade Foundation through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.