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6 Feb 2023

Must See February in the Garden – discover flowers and fruit in all the colours of the rainbow

Discover flowers in every colour of the rainbow this month. Also look out for rainbow inspired annual flower displays for Sydney World Pride 2023. Don't forget to join a guided walk to discover more.

Bat Flowers - Tacca chantrieri and Tacca integrifolia

Tacca chantrieri is unusual, not only because it has black flowers but because the cluster of small flowers that hang like berries are surrounded by pairs of bat-wing shaped bracts. Native to Southern China and South East Asia, the roots of the Black Bat Flower are used in Chinese medicine because of their anti-inflammatory properties. The closely related, but larger White Bat Flower Tacca integrifolia (pictured below) is also flowering nearby in the Tropical Garden.
Family: Dioscoreaceae

Bat Flowers - Tacca chantrieri and integrifoli

Succulent Sesame - Uncarina grandidieri

A deciduous pachycaulescent tree from Madagascar where it grows to 4 m high. Pachycauls are plants with a swollen trunk where they store water and nutrients. The yellow flowers have a petal shaped like a landing pad and a purple throat to attract pollen eating beetles. The beetles eat the pollen which also gets deposited on their head and thorax. When the beetle enters a new flower it has to push past the female part (stigma) leaving pollen, aiding pollination. Family: Pedaliaceae

Succulent Sesame - Uncarina grandidier

Blue ginger - Dichorisandra thyrsiflora

While the common name suggests that this is a member of the Ginger family (Zingiberaceae) it belongs to the Commelinaceae or spiderwort family. A spectacular plant from eastern Brazil, the vibrant blue flowers bring a splash of colour to shady gardens. Terminal flowers sit atop cane-like stems surrounded by spirally arranged glossy green leaves. Like other members of the family, the flowers are buzz-pollinated. That is when vibrations created in the bee’s thorax stimulate the release of pollen from the flower. Family: Commelinaceae

Crepe Myrtle - Lagerstroemia 'Eaves Pink'

Crepe Myrtles are a genus of about 50 species that are native to a wide geographic range in eastern Asia. Records show that Crepe Myrtles were introduced into Australia in 1836 and since that time they have undergone extensive breeding so that most of the old trees seen in gardens today are cultivars. They are popular for their colourful and long-lasting flowers in summer that have a crinkled look, somewhat like crepe paper, as well as their mottled smooth bark and distinctive twisted limbs. Family: Lythraceae

Crepe Myrtle - Lagerstroemia 'Eaves Pink'

Begonia - Begonia minor

Begonias are native to many tropical and subtropical regions mostly growing as understorey plants in forests. There are over 1800 species and many thousands of hybrids. They all have asymmetrical leaves and separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The female flower has an inferior ovary that can be seen below the petals, while the male has many stamens that produce pollen. The fruit is a winged capsule containing numerous minute seeds. This was the first species introduced into European gardens. Family: Begoniaceae

Banana Fig - Ficus pleurocarpa 

Endemic to north-east Queensland from Cape Tribulation to the Atherton Tableland where it grows in wet tropical rainforest. It is a strangler fig that starts life growing on another tree. Eventually its aerial roots reach the ground and dominant the host tree. Flowers and fruit are cylindrical or banana shaped. The abundant ripe yellow and red fruit is an important food source for frugivores in the rainforest such as the musky rat-kangaroo, spectacled flying foxes and many species of birds who disperse the seed. Family: Moraceae

Banana Fig - Ficus pleurocarpa

Breynia sp. Ironstone Range 

This bush is native to northern Australia and Malesia. It has a graceful weeping habit and striking burgundy foliage that makes it a stunning feature plant. Very small green flowers appear in the leaf axils in summer, followed by small round red fleshy fruit that attract birds. Like other members of the genus they are dependent on the leaf flower moth (Epicephala spp.) for pollination but moths also lay their eggs in the flower’s ovaries where the larvae consume some of the developing seeds as nourishment. Family: Phyllanthaceae

Ivory Curl Flower - Buckinghamia celsissima

Endemic to the tropical rainforests of northeastern Queensland where it is widespread in the area and frequently found in association with Agathis robusta (Kauri pine). In its native habitat it can grow to 30m tall but is much smaller in cultivation. In summer the masses of white to cream flowers occur in large racemes that droop down from the end of the branches and have a pleasant fragrance. The flowers attract a variety of insects and insectivorous birds, and the seeds are eaten by crimson rosellas. Family: Proteaceae

Ivory Curl Flower - Buckinghamia celsissima

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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