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10 Sep 2020

The spring flowers blooming at the Garden

Spring is in the air and the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is in full bloom. If you can't experience the fantastic sights, peaceful sounds and fragrant surrounds of the Garden then go on this virtual tour below to discover what's flowering now. 

Rhododendron veitchianum

These pure white flowers emit a gentle fragrance along our Spring Walk. They belong to this compact growing Rhododendron from Burma, Thailand and Laos where it grows in forests from 900-2400 metres. This Rhododendron is well adapted to Sydney’s hot and humid climate. It has the added benefit of scales on the under surface of its leaves making it more resistant to sap sucking insects such as thrips and lace bugs.

Sydney Rock Orchid - Dendrobium speciosum

The Sydney Rock Orchid is flowering in various locations throughout our Garden, allowing you to appreciate its different growth habits and the natural and cultivated variability of its flowers. It can be seen growing as a lithophyte, on rocks and an epiphyte, on trees. Flower colour varies from near white to golden yellow. Flowers are held on arching stems and are often pollinated by native stingless bees such as Tetragonula carbonaria.

Rough-shelled Bush Nut - Macadamia tetraphylla

One of the two species that produce the edible macadamia nut, this tree is covered in small pink flowers held in long racemes creating a waterfall of colour and fragrance. As well as delighting visitors these small nectar rich flowers attract European and Australian bees. The native stingless bee, Tetragonula carbonaria is an important pollinator of Macadamias, essential if the trees are to produce their delicious, oil rich seeds.

Anthurium chamberlainii

This spectacular and much coveted plant is endemic to Venezuela’s montane rainforests. It was first described in 1888 and then not seen again until a German bromeliad scientist collected a specimen in the late 20th century. The exact location of plants in the wild remains a mystery. The huge heart shaped leaves emerge redish brown, the colour indicates the presence of anthocyanins, that help deter herbivores and insects from eating the new leaves and provide sun protection for the delicate new foliage.

Foxglove - Digitalis purpurea

Beautiful, dangerous and useful. This plant from Europe ticks all three boxes. Bell shaped pink and white flowers, lined with dots to guide pollinators to their nectar, tower above the foliage. Cardiac glycosides, digitoxin and digoxin are extracted from the leaves and used as a medication for heart failure. Scientific research was originally inspired by the plants traditional use as a cure for “right dropsy” (heart failure) in England. However, don’t forget that the leaves, flowers and seeds of this lovely biennial are poisonous if ingested.

Parrot’s Beak - Lotus berthelotii

This pretty trailing plant is probably extinct in the wild. It was first described in 1881 from plants growing in the Canary Islands but it seems unlikely that any wild plants survive. This species and its cultivars have become popular as garden plants for their brightly coloured flowers, unique feathery, silver foliage and drought tolerance. Scientists are studying the genetic diversity in cultivated plants to see if the species can be reintroduced to natural landscapes in the Canary Islands.

Brown Myrtle, Never-break - Backhousia leptopetala (syn. Choricarpia leptopetala)

Covered in globular, cream flowers and buzzing with the sound of bees, this tree belongs to the Eucalyptus family, Myrtaceae. It grows along rainforest margins or open forest next to watercourses on the east coast of Australia. Like many members of the family the flowers are characterised by prominent stamens, the male pollen bearing parts of the flower. Garden’s Director, Joseph Maiden (1896-1924) commented that this tree was already a fine specimen in 1903.  

Silky Eremophila - Eremophila nivea 'Gubbura Bells'

The botanic name says it all, Eremophila means desert loving in Greek and nivea is Latin for snow or white. This distinctive Emu bush, with dramatic, silvery white foliage is popular in cultivation but endangered in the wild. It comes from South Western Australia, near Three Springs in the wheatbelt country. It prefers hot, dry conditions with low humidity, but grafted specimens grow well in higher rainfall areas if provided with excellent drainage. Delicate purple, tubular flowers appear in Spring and Summer.

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