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2 Sep 2021

Spring is in the air!

Experience a range of blooming flowers from the comfort of your home; find out what's flowering this spring at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. 

Flannel Flower, Talara'Tingi (Dharawal) - Actinotus helianthi

Covered in fine soft hairs, this iconic plant from eastern Australia feels like velvet or flannel. It grows in shallow sandy soil in coastal heath and open Eucalypt forests. The flowers resemble daisies, but they are from the carrot family (Apiaceae). On closer examination the flowers are small, arranged in clusters called umbels and surrounded by white, hairy bracts, often with green tips. Flowering can occur throughout the year, but mainly in spring. The seed regenerates prolifically after bushfires.

Port Jackson Fig, Damun (Gadigal) - Ficus rubiginosa

These large trees from the east coast of Australia are widely planted in this Garden. Popular with our nineteenth century directors due to their resilience and the precious shade they provided for Sydneysiders. Most of these trees were grown in pots and planted in lawns. However in wild populations around Sydney they begin life on rocks (lithophyte) and their web of roots spread from rocks to the surrounding soil. They also have the ability to start life as hemiepiphytes (on trees).

Rough-shelled Bush Nut - Macadamia tetraphylla

All four Macadamia species are endemic to Australia but only two produce edible nuts, Macadamia tetraphylla and Macadamia integrifolia. Only about 1000 mature trees of this species remain in the wild in small rainforest patches from Lismore in NSW to Bundaberg in Queensland. They are listed as vulnerable and while there are many commercial plantations, these trees are hybrids, often clones with minimal genetic diversity leaving plantations vulnerable to disease and climate change.

Florida Anise Tree - Illicium floridanum

This attractive shrub with unusual dark red flowers loves shady locations with moist to wet soils. It comes from the swamps of southern USA states, Florida and Louisiana and montane forests of northern Mexico. Both flowers and crushed leaves, have a distinctive smell. The smell of the flowers and the heat they generate attract small flies who carry out pollination. It is a close relative of the spice, star anise (Illicium verum), from China and Vietnam, but it is not edible.

Rhododendron veitchianum

Native to the mountain forests of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, Rhododendron veitchianum it grows well in Sydney’s warm and humid climate. It is a small shrub that grows to about two metres and in the wild it can grow as an epiphyte (meaning a plant that grows on another plant). The gently fragrant white flowers are large and trumpet-like and often have a yellow blotch in the throat. The leaves have scales on the under surface which makes the plant more resistant to sap-sucking bugs such as lace bugs and thrips.

Sydney Rock Orchid - Dendrobium speciosum

It may be called the Sydney Rock Orchid but this species is found along the east coast of Australia from south-east Victoria to Cairns. It is a highly variable species and grows as a lithophyte (on rocks) or epiphyte (on trees). It has spreading roots and cylindrical pseudobulbs, tapering at the top from which two to five thick leaves appear. Flowers, usually white or creamy yellow, occur in clusters on long stems. Each stem can carry over one hundred fragrant flowers, making them spectacular when in full bloom.

Emu Bush - Eremophila nivea

This is one of 214 species of Eremophila, all of which are endemic to Australia and all generally from inland and arid areas. Eremophila nivea is only found in a few areas of southern Western Australia and is considered endangered in the wild. The hairy stems and leaves give the plant a silvery-white appearance and combined with the mauve tubular flowers make it popular in cultivation. Coming from an arid environment it requires full sun and well-drained soil to grow well in Sydney.

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