This July we are bringing our popular 'Must See' tour to you! Each plant on the tour is flowering or fruiting in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney this month.
Gymea Lily - Doryanthes excelsa
The botanic name well describes this unique plant from the central coast of NSW, including Sydney. Doryanthes is the composite of two Greek words, doratos, meaning spear and anthos, flower. The species is from the Latin, excelsus, meaning high or lofty. Clusters of red flowers appear at the end of flowering stems 2-5 metres above sword-like foliage. It belongs to an endemic genus that contains only two species, the other, Doryanthes palmeri, also coming into flower, is from the Macpherson Range in north-east NSW and south eastern Queensland.
Golden Camellia - Camellia nitidissima
Beautiful yellow flowers and striking pink/red new growth have led to this species being described as the Queen of the Camellias. It grows in the understorey of evergreen broad-leaf forests, along moist valleys, and is found in only 2 small areas of southern China and in northern Vietnam. It is classified as endangered and it is threatened with both habitat loss and harvesting for traditional medicine, tea and for the horticultural industry. Recent studies have shown the essential oils in the leaves and flowers have antibacterial properties.
Hong Kong Rose - Rhodoleia championii
This large shrub or small tree has pendulous scarlet flowers and attractive glossy green leaves. It has a wide distribution from southern China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia, where it grows in evergreen forests but also regenerates well in cleared land. A study in Guangdong Province of China, observed seven different species of nectar-foraging birds visiting the flowers including fork-tailed sunbirds. It was also suggested that as temperatures increase across the plant’s geographic range, bumblebees and bees became more common as pollinators.
Grevillea 'Dorothy Gordon'
There are more than 350 species of Grevilleas in Australia and hundreds of hybrids and cultivars. This variety is one of four that originated at the Myall Park Botanic Garden on the Darling Downs in Queensland, begun in 1940 by David Gordon. All are named for members of the Gordon family, three for the daughters of David and Dorothy Gordon and this one for botanic artist, Dorothy. It was a spontaneous seedling, from parents G.sessilis (Queensland) and G.paradoxa (Western Australia). Its unique pink and burgundy bicolour flowers and copper coloured foliage make it a striking although, sterile ornamental plant.
Millenium Cherry - Prunus ‘Yvonne Mathies’
We can’t promise they will flower for the whole month but while they are flowering these three small trees are a beacon for photographers and bees. This variety was bred at the University of Western Sydney, by Graeme Richards to create a reliable warm climate flowering cherry. It is a hybrid between the Wild Cherry, Prunus avium and the Taiwanese Cherry, Prunus campanulata. It was named for the mother of fellow academic, garden historian and nursery owner, Judyth McLeod.
Misty Plume Bush - Tetradenia riparia
Lighting up the winter months with its mass of small lilac flowers this shrub from southern Africa is a showstopper in the Middle Garden. Like other members of the mint family (Lamiaceae), it has aromatic leaves with a velvety texture. Extracts of the plant have been used traditionally to treat headaches, chest complaints, stomach ache and even malaria. Researchers have shown that plant extracts do inhibit certain bacteria. Plants benefit from a hard prune after flowering.
Screw Pine - Pandanus tectorius
There are times walking through the garden, when a plant demands your attention, not for flowers or fruit but for another striking morphological characteristic. The dramatic stilt roots of the Screw Pine are a great example. Bursting from the plants stem, thick fleshy roots grew to the ground and stabilise these top heavy plants in sandy soils. Screw Pines are one of the most useful plants of the tropics. Leaves of some species are used to flavour food, for handicrafts and the fruit and seeds of many species are edible.
Blushing Bride - Serruria florida
This South African member of the Proteaceae family, although commonly seen in floral decorations, is endangered in its natural habitat. It grows as part of the fynbos, a diverse plant community coevolved with fire. Serruria needs to mature and set seeds, stored by ants in their underground nests, to survive fire. Too frequent fires mean immature plants die before producing seed. It is said that the shade of the flower worn by prospective suitors when proposing, will determine their success. The pinker the flower the more chance of success.
Our Must See tours are curated and led by a team of passionate volunteers. Learn more about our diverse volunteer programs here.