The flowers and fragrance of Camellia species feature this month. Find out more below and take the Must See tour to discover more early winter flowers. Download this Month's Must See Tour or use the tour tab on our Garden Explorer plant finder to find the plants in the Garden.
Sunpatiens - Impatiens hawkeri cultivars
The genus Impatiens includes over 1000 species from the northern hemisphere and the tropics. Flowers are not only brightly coloured but have a distinctive nectar producing spur at the base of the flower and explosive seed capsules. Sunpatiens is a cultivar bred from the widespread Indonesian and New Guinean species, Impatiens hawkeri, by the Japanese seed company Sakata. It thrives in full sun and is also featured in our Horticultural Trial Garden in the Palace precinct.
Hairpin Banksia - Banksia spinulosa
There are hundreds and thousands of flowers that make up a Banksia inflorescence. Pairs of flowers are lined up in rows and columns along a woody axis. Male and female parts are joined together, but as they mature, the female part breaks free and the style is covered in pollen from the male anthers. It is called a pollen presenter. Small marsupials and birds brush against it to reach the nectar at the base of the flower. The name Hairpin Banksia refers to the hooked style of this species.
A white flowering and fragrant Camellia from China with heart-shaped petals. Fruit is harvested for its seed used to produce Camellia oil. Camellia oil is used for cooking and in the manufacture of soaps, cosmetics, margarine and dermatological medicines. This is a widespread species in south-eastern China but there is insufficient data to confirm if it is threatened in the wild, despite reports of declining populations due to deforestation . A double flowered form, called Zhenzhu Cha. is planted nearby.
Golden Camellia - Camellia petelotii (syn.nitidissima)
This yellow Camellia is endemic to southeast China and is known as the Golden Camellia. It was first described in 1948 but it wasn’t until the 1980s that it was cultivated and available outside of China. The butter yellow flowers are relatively small and hang below the branches amongst the foliage. New leaves are a striking pink-red colour and fruit is large, about the size of a tennis ball. Wild populations are endangered due to over harvesting and deforestation.
Golden Penda - Xanthostemon chrysanthus
Endemic to coastal rainforest from Townsville to Cape York in north Queensland, Golden Penda is famous for its ‘fluffy golden flowers’. The shape and colour is due to the flower's prominent stamens, a characteristic of the gum tree family (Myrtaceae) to which they belong. Growing to 10-12 metres in cultivation, Golden Penda is one of 47 species within the genus Xanthostemon, from the Greek words, ‘Xantho’ - yellow and ‘stemon’ - stamen.
Dreadlock Palm - Burretiokentia hapala
This endangered palm from New Caledonia has only been found in three locations on the main island. It grows in dense humid forest at altitudes from 50 to 400 metres. The main threat to the species is a lack of seedlings, due to grazing and degradation of the forest by pigs and deer. The inflorescence is unusual as it is covered in a felt-like covering of soft fine hairs that brown with age. The species epithet comes from “hapalus” meaning; soft to the touch.
Hong Kong Orchid Tree - Bauhinia x blakeana
This is a stunning tree when in flower, producing large, perfumed, orchid-like flowers. It is thought to be a chance hybrid between Bauhinia purpurea from India and Bauhinia variegata from eastern Asia and is sterile, so does not produce the seed pods as do most Bauhinias. All plants in the world originate from a single tree discovered on Hong Kong Island in 1880 and described botanically in 1908. The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens has distributed more than 25,000 cuttings since 1914.
Protea cynaroides 'Little Prince'
Little Prince is a compact cultivar of the King Protea, the national flower of South Africa. Over forty species of Proteas come from the Fynbos in South Africa. Fynbos (from the Dutch Fijnboch meaning fine bush) is heathland growing on nutrient poor soils in the Cape region of South Africa. It is special due to its enormous diversity of plant species with over 9000 species, two-thirds endemic to the area. Proteas like Banksias in Australia belong to the Proteaceae family.
Join a Guided Walk of the Garden with one of our knowledgeable Volunteer Guides on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Find out more here (availability may be temporary unavailable at times due to COVID-19 restrictions).