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29 Nov 2022

Flowers to enjoy this festive season at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Celebrate flowers in all the colours of the rainbow on this months selfguided tour.

Red Tower Ginger - Costus comosus var. bakeri

Bright yellow flowers poke out from striking red bracts, making this a very appealing plant for the garden. Native to the region from South Mexico through to Ecuador, the red bracts and flowers attract the native hummingbirds that have long beaks to reach the nectar. This a large clumping plant that produces long stems from an underground rhizome. Each stem produces the terminal clusters of flowers. The leaves are large with downy hairs on the underside that feel like velvet. Family: Costaceae

Old Man Banksia - Banksia serrata

Hundreds of cream-coloured flowers make up the cylindrical inflorescence of the Banksia. Old flowers, some of which have seed follicles, stay on the tree for many months showing all stages of flowering at once. Flowers produce nectar attracting small mammals at night and birds and bees during the day. Plants regenerate after fire from epicormic buds under the bark, lignotubers below the ground or seed that germinates after fire. Family: Proteaceae

Showy Medinilla - Medinilla magnifica

The Medinilla genus has about 380 species which originate in the tropical band from Africa through to the Philippines. The majority grow in moist high-altitude forests where many are epiphytes. This epiphytic shrub is from the Philippines and is considered one of the most striking of the genus. At the base of the flower clusters are pendulous pink bracts that resemble petals while the flowers are in panicles that resemble grapes. Violet fleshy fruits follow flowering. Family: Melastomataceae

Paper Gardenia - Tabernaemontana cerifera

A native of New Caledonia, this small to medium tree is a delight in summer when in flower. The white star shaped flowers have a wonderful gardenia fragrance that is even stronger at night to attract pollinating moths. The bases of the five petals are fused to make a long thin nectar containing tube that make the moths work hard for their food. The fruit are green boat shaped pods that occur in pairs and are often seen during the flowering season.
Family: Apocynaceae

Umzimbeet - Milletia grandis

This is one of two species of Milletia native to South Africa that are named after Charles Millet, a plant collector and official with the British East India Company based in Canton China in 1830’s. A medium sized tree with spreading crown that is covered in purple flowers in summer. The flowers are in racemes at the end of the branches and emerge from rusty brown flower buds that appear in spring. The fruits are pods containing three or more seeds.
Family: Fabaceae

Norfolk Island Hibiscus - Lagunaria patersonia

One of only two species in the genus, this tree is endemic to Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands but has become naturalised in coastal areas of NSW. The pink flowers are typical hibiscus shape, appear in the leaf axils and attract birds in search of nectar. The flowers are followed by capsules that contain black seeds and many fibreglass-like hairs that can cause irritation and gives rise to other common names such as Itch Tree and Cow Itch tree. Family: Malvaceae

Bull Bay Magnolia - Magnolia grandiflora

These magnificent evergreen trees are from one of the most ancient flowering plant lineages, thought to have evolved during the cretaceous period around 95 million years ago and were probably first pollinated by beetles. The carpels or female part of the flower are hardened for protection against gnawing beetle mandibles, and they mimic stamens to trick beetles looking for pollen from male floral parts. Cleverly, to prevent self-pollination, the female parts are receptive before the stamens become active and release their pollen. Family: Magnoliaceae

Coolamon, Durobby - Syzygium moorei

This rare tree is from the subtropical rainforests of the northern rivers area of NSW. It is listed as vulnerable, at risk due to the low population size and loss of habitat for agriculture and housing. A tall tree with dense dark foliage with showy pink fluffy flowers in summer that are clustered on old leafless branches (called ramiflory), as well as on the trunk (called cauliflory). The fruit are white and large, and like other Lilly Pillies, they are edible.
Family: Myrtaceae

Learn more 

Why not join a Guided Walk of the Garden with one of our knowledgeable Volunteer Guides, daily at 10:30 am and Saturday and Sunday 2 pm. Find out more here

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