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1 May 2023

Autumn colour and tropical flowers to be found in the Garden this May

Flowers, fruit and cones feature on the plants you will discover on this months walk.

​Plum or Illawarra Pine - Podocarpus elatus

This southern hemisphere conifer is endemic to northern NSW and Queensland and is one of 95 species of Podocarps. Unlike other conifers, the Podocarps do not have seed cones, instead they have a single seed attached by a fleshy receptacle to the branch. The seed is hard and inedible, but the purple black fleshy receptacle underneath is edible and eaten by Aboriginal people. Male trees produce drooping cones that release their pollen to be spread by the wind. Family: Podocarpaceae

Camellia sasanqua varieties

Popular for its winter flowering, Camellia sasanqua is one of the most popular ornamental camellias. Originating in China and Japan, cultivars began appearing in Japan in the early 17th century with the first record of Camellia sasanqua varieties made by Ihei Ito (1695-1733). It was not until the 18th century that Camellias were introduced in Europe. Despite their success as ornamental plants, one third of all Camellia species are threatened with extinction in the wild. Family: Theaceae

Maidenhair Tree - Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba, sometimes referred to as a ‘living fossil’, is the only surviving member of an ancient order (Ginkgoales) of seed bearing plants around 270 million years old. Individual Trees are either female or male and we have both types in our garden. The distinctive fan shaped bilobed leaves turn a buttery yellow colour in Autumn. This is a tree prized for its resilience, spectacular Autumn colour, medicinal properties and edible seeds produced in Summer. Family: Ginkgoaceae

Johnstone River Almond - Elaeocarpus bancroftii

This tree is restricted to north eastern Queensland where it grows in tropical rainforests from Cooktown to Tully. In Autumn, white bell-shaped flowers with fringed petals hang in clusters amongst the leaves and are followed by blue-green fruit. The fruit contains an edible seed that is encased in a hard outer layer. Seed is eaten by native Giant White-tailed rats but Southern Cassowaries who swallow the whole fruit are the main seed disperses. Family: Elaeocarpaceae

Hong Kong Orchid Tree - Bauhinia x blakeana

This spectacular pink flowering tree was found around 1880 at Pokfulamin in Hong Kong by a French missionary who propagated it from a cutting. In 2005 scientists showed it to be a naturally occurring hybrid of two other Bauhinia species, B. variegata and B. purpurea but it is sterile. It does not produce fruit even when flowers are deliberately pollinated. Hence it only exists due to human intervention through vegetative propagation so this tree is genetically identical to that first tree discovered in 1880. Family: Fabaceae

Living Wall at The Calyx - Heuchera

The green wall in the Calyx is an amazing artwork made up of 18,049 potted plants. Each plant must be the same size and the right colour to fit into the artwork. Heucheras are proving ideal for this task. Known as coral bells they are a genus from North America that are grown for their foliage rather than their flowers. Hybrids started to appear around the 1930’s and now a huge range of colours are available. These amazing plants are propagated by tissue culture. Family: Saxifragaceae

Cook Pine - Araucaria columnaris

This southern hemisphere conifer from New Caledonia has separate male cones and female cones on the same tree. Male cones produce pollen and are small and cylindrical. Female cones are larger, egg-shaped and occur higher up in the canopy of the tree. When grown outside New Caledonia the whole tree, from base to crown, leans towards the equator, making them unique amongst woody plants. The further away from the equator the larger the lean. They are easy to spot as you walk around the garden. Family: Araucariaceae

Keyaki - Zelkova serrata

Native to Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan, Zelkova serrata is a fast growing, large, deciduous tree from the Elm family. It is characterised by its short trunk and upright spreading branches that form a broad round crown. In Korea they have been worshipped by local communities as village guardians. Many of these trees are now over 600 years old and are protected as natural monuments. The timber is valued in Japan for furniture and lacquerware and the trees can also be used as bonsai plants. Family: Ulmaceae

Learn more 

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

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