Jacarandas may be the show stopper in early November, but there are many other spectacular plants on this month's virtual tour.
Hibiscus brackenridgei subsp. mokuleianus
This fast-growing Hibiscus from Hawaii is covered in beautiful buttery yellow flowers. It grows naturally in only three locations on the island of O’ahu in dry forests and shrublands and is considered critically endangered. Only 100-300 individual plants survive in the wild, but cultivated plants are being translocated to safe locations on O’ahu to increase the population. Scientists ensure there is genetic diversity in these translocated populations.
This rare tree is endemic to New Caledonia. White flowers with a pink blush and showy stamens hang from long racemes in early summer. Just before flowering, the large leaves turn bright red and fall. Almost immediately new pink leaves emerge. Occassionally, Rainbow Lorikeets get a little too excited when landing on the floral racemes, leaving a carpet of flowers beneath the tree. This is one of the unusual plants propagated by volunteers and sold at our Growing Friends Nursery, open; Monday – Friday 11am-2pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.
Erythrina x bidwillii 'Blakei'
This plant has spectacular vermillion red flowers and an interesting history. It was bred by William Macarthur at his Camden Park estate in the 1840s by crossing E.herbacea with E.crista-galli. The name honours both the former Botanic Garden's Director , John Bidwill and Macarthur’s convict gardener, Edmund Blake. This was the first hybrid produced anywhere in the world between woody legumes. It is sterile and needs to be grown from cuttings or grafted onto E.crista-galli rootstock.
Weeping Boerboon - Schotia brachypetala
This semi-deciduous tree is native to Southern Africa including Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Red flowers open between August and November, attracting a wide variety of nectar feeding animals and insects, especially birds. The flowering time can be irregular and in their natural habitat adjacent trees may flower at different times, prolonging the availability of nectar. Each flower contains so much nectar that it usually ferments before the birds can eat it all. The fermented nectar has a mild narcotic effect on the birds so they might look as if they are a little drunk.
Pineapple Cycad - Lepidozamia peroffskyana
Endemic to Australia this cycad grows near the coast from northern NSW to south east Queensland. It can grow to 7 metres and often in dense stands. Normally it has an unbranched trunk, but in some plants trunks branch resulting in up to five heads. Male and female plants can be easily differentiated once the cones appear. Male cones are more slender than female cones and open spirally. Female cones (pictured) split and drop large poisonous seeds coated in a fleshy red exocarp.
Lesser Swamp Orchid - Phaius australis
First described by Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens in 1858. This is one of the largest species of ground orchids in Australia, its flowering stem can reach 2 m and bear up to 20 flowers. Its native habitat is swampy coastal regions from the mid north coast of NSW to the Gold Coast in QLD. Unfortunately, it is listed as endangered in Australia. The main threats are from land clearing and the illegal collection of plants.
Pacaya - Chamaedorea tepejilote
This is one of 110 species in the genus and nearly all are found in the understorey of rainforests in Central and South America. They love shady conditions and are dioecious, meaning some plants are male and some female. This species grows to 7 metres with bamboo-like green stems and prominent leaf scars. Male flowers can be eaten raw or pickled and are cultivated commercially in parts of Central America. Female flowers are followed by black fruit held to the trunk by a striking orange stem.
The Rose Garden
Roses have a long history as symbols of beauty and love, but also war and politics. Most rose species are native to Asia, with a few from North America, Europe, and northwest Africa. This is the ninth Rose Garden created in the Garden’s history and contains a collection of striking modern Roses cultivated with the minimal use of chemicals. Look out for the China Rose cultivar ‘Mutabilis’ whose flowers change colour with age and Rosa ‘Fire and Ice’.
Bringing the garden to you and inspiration for you home garden. Head to the Gardening at Home section of our website for expert advice.