Skip to content
18 Aug 2022

What's your favourite tree?

When it comes to ranking Australia's best trees, it makese sense to ask the experts. The ABC is on the hunt for Australia's favourite tree so we asked our Gardens staff to share theirs. Ultimately it will be up to the public to decide! Do you have a favourite tree in one of our Gardens?

To celebrate National Science Week, the ABC has been on the hunt for your favourite tree. From a starting pack of 33 trees hand-picked by a panel of experts, in consultation with botanical groups, 23 were eliminated to a final top 10 list.

Australian Institute of Botanical Science researcher Dr Cathy Offord also featured on the judging panel for the Catalyst's favourite tree search, with trees battling it out state by state.

So what do the people who work with trees every day think?

Michael Elgey, Curator Manager at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, says his favourite is the Queensland bottle tree.

"This species has a natural unique form and shape that is very striking and in any landscape it in its natural habitat, street plantings or in any garden. They are always a loved specimen wherever  they are grown," he says.

The Queensland bottle tree, Brachychiton rupestris, at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Peter Dawe, Lead for Youth Community Greening, says his vote is for the white cypress pine.

"It’s appearance can vary greatly depending on its location but it’s a survivor and it’s patient," he says.

"While other native species all race and compete to take control after fires, it slowly comes through and after many decades, if it’s not destroyed by fire, it will push through to dominate all of the other species and outlive them all." 

My favourite tree is the huon pine – I love the smell of the timber of this ancient Tassie native and imagining the giants surviving in the forests where the timber getters couldn’t reach.
Eliza Tyson, Horticulturist
Matt Coyne, Senior Arborist, says he loves the mountain ash.

"I am in complete awe of the size of these trees in the wild! I struggle to comprehend how something so massive started off its life as a tiny seedling," he says.

Horticulturist Jarryd Kelly says his pick is the Illawarra flame tree, which is iconic in NSW, particularly the Illawarra/South coast region.

"I find Kurrajong’s really interesting. They are distinctive, unique and beautiful. They are also deciduous which is unique in Australian native plants," he says.

Lesley Neuhold, Senior Nursery Horticulturist at the Australian Botanic Garden, votes for the Gungurru (eucalyptus caesia) because it is very difficult to grow in Sydney due to the climate, but when we grow it successfully it rewards us with it’s beautiful simplicity, while horticulturist labourer Robert Navarro says he loves the Avicennia marina, or grey mangrove, because of the aerial roots they develop.
The Eucalyptus caesia
The eucalyptus caesia.

Ryan Newett, Supervisor for Production Horticulture at the Australian Botanic Garden, even wrote an acrostic poem about why he loves trees and why they're important!

Look amazing; could be height, girth, the intricate branch/root structure, flowers or leaf colour
Oh boy do I love consuming the amazing produce trees provide: most nuts, lots of fruit … pancakes with maple syrup… nom nom
Value – research has shown that property prices in tree lined streets are more valuable than those without trees
Energy efficiency; the right trees keep houses warmer in winter - cooler in summer; you always look for a tree to park under in summer!

Identifiable – before ‘maps’, trees were often the statement in a landscape - helping navigate and direct
Make us feel happier – reduce our stress levels – we feel happier when we are among the trees (why else would we ‘get back to nature’)
Prevent soil erosion caused by wind or water, this erosion of topsoil that could pollute waterways with catastrophic consequences
Oxygenate the atmosphere so we can breathe - otherwise we would not survive, our planet would be as desolate as all of the other known planets where we are yet to find life
Resilient – we prune, lop, pave for comfort and convenience … and trees often find a way to survive when most organisms would not.
Take Carbon Dioxide and other toxic gasses out of the air – sometimes to their own detriment
Are sources for our food, materials, and shelter
Natural habitat for all our wonderful flora and fauna – where there are more trees, we have more diversity think (jungle or thick bush).
They are nature’s ‘ninja warrior’ course for kids (and adults), they keep us keep fit – and doctors in business
 Vote for your favourite in the ABC's poll.
If you are a journalist and have a media enquiry about this story, please click here for contact details and more information.