An extinct Camellia, a rare Kauri, a palm with dreadlocks and a plant that helps many of us wake up each morning all feature in this month's self-guided walk.
Aloe species and hybrids
Aloes are succulent plants from Southern Africa, Madagascar and the Arabian Peninsula. There are over 500 species ranging from tall trees to small ground cover plants. The bright red and yellow flowers attract birds and bees to the winter garden. There many hybrids that are popular in cultivation because of their resistance to drought and spectacular winter flowers. You will find many of these on the Greenway terrace and near the Conservatorium Gates in the Palace Garden Precinct.
Coffee - Coffea arabica
Coffea arabica is one of three species of Coffea that are cultivated worldwide for coffee and accounts for about 60% of world production. It was brought to Australia from Rio de Janeiro by the First Fleet in 1788 and is growing in our First Farm. It grows into a large shrub and produces small white flowers that only last a few days and smell like jasmine. The berries appear as dark green and change colour to dark red when they are ready to harvest.
Misty Plume Bush - Tetradenia riparia
A member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) Misty Plume Bush occurs throughout tropical Africa as far south as South Africa. It is a large deciduous shrub that grows along riverbanks, forest margins and dry wooded areas. Pungent smelling leaves are used in traditional medicine. It is cultivated for the showy flower display it puts on during winter with lilac flowers borne on spikes at the end of branches. Plants are available at our Growing Friends Nursery.
This Camellia is extinct in the wild. The original habitat is likely to have been moist tropical and sub-tropical evergreen forests in the Tam Dao region of northern Vietnam. Camellia amplexicaulis has long been cultivated in Vietnam and flowering stems are used during the new year festival, Tet. New leaves are large and bright red and leaves clasp to the stem, flowers are pink with bright yellow stamens.
Millenium Cherry - Prunus 'Yvonne Mathies'
These three small trees on the edge of our Oriental garden were 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. While they might not flower for the entire month, their pink flowers are a magnet for both pollinators and photographers.
Spitting Tree - Anneslea fragrans
Why do we call it the Spitting Tree? The flowers have an inbuilt trigger mechanism that spits out a blob of sticky pollen. The young flowers have petals tightly clasped together, in the shape of a Russian orthodox church spire. Slits in the swollen part of the flower allow fragrance to escape, attracting bees. When the bee disturbs the tip of the spire (a protruding style), pollen is fired out, coating the bee, who will hopefully vist another flower so that pollination can take place.
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 inflorescences are unusual as they are 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.
Large-leaved Kauri - Agathis macrophylla
Native to Fiji, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands where it is often the largest tree in the tropical lowland and low montane rainforests where it grows. Trees grow to 40 m with a dense canopy, large leaves, and beautiful mottled bark. The wood is valuable for construction, boat building and furniture. It also produces a resin once used for making varnishes, pottery glaze and burning in lamps. The soot of burnt resin is used to dye cloth black. It is listed as endangered, threatened by logging and deforestation.
Why not join a Guided Walk of the Garden with one of our knowledgeable Volunteer Guides, daily at 10:30 am. Find out more here.