Summer is in the air and the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is in full bloom. Each plant on the tour is flowering or fruiting in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney this month.
Hairy banana or Pink banana - Musa velutina
Originating from Assam and the eastern Himalayas this ornamental banana draws the eye with its bright pink flowers and fruit. Bananas are large, perennial, herbaceous flowering plants and what looks like a trunk is, in fact, a sheath of leaves tightly wrapped on each other to create a pseudostem.
Unlike most cultivated bananas, the fruit of this species contains numerous rock-hard small seeds. Cultivated bananas are parthenocarpic, meaning they produce fruit without pollination. All bananas grow from an underground rhizome and can reproduce vegetatively from suckers.
Tropical Day Flowering Water Lilies - Nymphaea cultivars
Amongst the most beautiful and photogenic flowers in the world, water lilies have captured the imagination of artists and gardeners alike. Next to our fernery is a selection of water lilies bred for their bright flowers and attractive leaves.
They require full sun and water at least 50 cm deep to grow, and these varieties die down in Sydney’s winter months. Water lilies are members of an ancient flowering plant (Nymphaeales) that diverged from other lineages at least 130 million years ago.
Climbing Frangipani - Chonemorpha fragrans
A vigorous, twining climber found growing naturally in montane forests from Indonesia to India, with richly fragrant flowers similar to the famous Singapore White Frangipani (Plumeria obtusa). Just like most Frangipanis, it goes dormant and loses its leaves during Sydney’s winter.
This sweet-scented flower is traditionally given to guests at weddings in many parts of Asia and is also used as a popular hair adornment by Malay women. Available for sale nearby at our Growing Friends Nursery, check our website for opening times in January.
Cassowary Plum - Cerbera floribunda
This tree is native to lowland rainforests of New Guinea and Tropical North Queensland and as the common name suggests has a mutualistic relationship with the Southern Cassowary. Small white, fragrant flowers are followed by large, egg-shaped blue fruit.
Cassowaries eat the fruit whole and pass the seeds intact. The fruit is toxic to most animals, but Cassowaries are immune and are vital in distributing the seeds of this species and many other large-fruited rainforest trees. Curiously, the skin of the fruit is a rich blue colour like the neck skin of the Cassowary!
Yellow and Peach Oleander - Cascabela thevetioides and C. thevetia ‘Stovoldii’
Like many members of their family, Apocynaceae, these two flowering shrubs are beautiful but poisonous. The milky white sap and seeds are toxic. Fast-growing, they thrive in the heat but are sensitive to frost. Ideal for coastal Sydney’s climate but they have weed potential in tropical Queensland.
The genus name, Cascabela, comes from the Spanish word meaning small bell, referring to the shape of the flowers. Andre Thevet, a 16th-century French monk and plant collector, is commemorated by the species epithet.
Bull Bay, Southern Magnolia - Magnolia grandiflora
These large domed trees from the southern states of the USA bear large white flowers with a sweet lemon scent. You will find them throughout our garden, offering shade, fragrance and colour. Their sturdy flowers are pollinated by beetles feeding on the pollen and bees in search of nectar.
Flowers are followed by large, conical-shaped fruit-bearing bright red seeds. These trees inspired a beautiful sculpture by Bronwyn Oliver, Magnolia (1999), found in the lower garden near Busby’s Bar.
Atherton Fig - Ficus leptoclada
Looking like baubles on a Christmas tree, the trunk of our Atherton Fig is covered with green inflorescences called synconia turning into red infructescences demonstrating the trees cauliflorous flowering habit. These botanical terms describe a type of flowering and fruiting characteristic of figs.
Flowers are held inside a fleshy receptacle with only a tiny entrance hole where minute female wasps enter to lay their eggs, pollinate the flowers and allow magnificent figs like this one to set seed and continue their life cycle.
Lotus, Sacred Lotus - Nelumbo nucifera
Lotus flowers are the national flower of India and Vietnam. The flower is an important symbol for both Hindu and Buddhist religions. A metaphor for how great beauty can arise from abject conditions.
Leaf stalks, young leaves, rootstock and seeds are all edible. After flowering, the seed pod bends downward when mature, releasing its seeds into the water where they remain viable for hundreds of years. Leaves repel water, that moves in droplets like mercury across the tiny, wax-coated filaments that project from the leaf surface.
Join a Guided Walk of the Garden with one of our knowledgeable Volunteer Guides on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Find out more here (availability may be temporary unavailable at times due to COVID-19 restrictions).