Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Dragonís blood tree finds new home

In the past few weeks one of the horticultural teams in the Royal Botanic Garden has been busy transplanting trees. Two dragonís blood trees (Dracaena draco) and a needlewood (Schima wallichii) have found new homes.

One of the dragonís blood trees will be donated to the new dinosaur themed childrenís garden at the Albury Botanic Gardens. This garden is to be featured in an upcoming segment of Gardening Australia.

The second dragonís blood tree, one of two that will frame the entrance to the Rose Garden on Macquarie Street, is currently in the Royal Botanic Garden nursery and will remain there until it forms a self supporting root system.

The dragonís blood trees were grown from seed obtained in the International Seed Exchange Program (between botanic gardens) on 22 August 1995, from the University of Coimbra Botanic Garden in Portugal. The seed was collected on Madeira (North Atlantic Ocean) where only a few wild trees remain.

The needlewood was transplanted from near Victoria Lodge (bed 110) to next to the Main Pond (bed 89c). This tree has been sponsored in honour of the many yearsí service to the Trust of former Foundation Director Pauline Markwell. The sponsorship was made possible through the generosity of Mr Leon Fink, a very generous benefactor of the Trust.

Needlewood is an important and interesting tree within the collection. This attractive evergreen tree is from subtropical and warm-temperate regions of Asia. A member of the tea family Theaceae, Schima is closely related to Gordonia. Needlewood blooms in late summer with a display of fragrant white flowers. The bark is said to be a skin irritant. The hard durable timber is used for fence posts, beams and boards for house construction. The leaves and roots are used to treat fevers and the bark is sometimes used for intestinal worms.

Though little known in Australia, the needlewood would make an ideal ornamental tree. The fragrant white flowers could easily complement many garden landscapes.

The seed for this tree was collected by former Trust staff member (and now honorary research associate) Tony Curry in October 1993. The collection site was 100 m below the summit of Mount Baojiao Zai in Guangxi Province China. There are needlewoods growing at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah but this is the only example planted out in the Royal Botanic Garden.

To help with transplant shock and to protect the tree from the summer sun, the landscape team have erected a shade sail above the tree. It is anticipated that the shade sail will remain in place until late May 2013.