Choosing a new specimen tree

What to do for a new specimen tree?

  • Moggill Pocket was aglow with Jacarandas (Jacaranda mimosifolia) in the springtime including the ones that previous owners had planted along our driveway. Jacaranda seedlings are often found in our gardens or lawns but we will not be encouraging any more. They were planted by the Brisbane Council in years past and now the older  magnificent specimens are protected as significant landscape trees even though they are not native and have come to be regarded as an environmental weed in NSW and Queensland.
  • Another non-native tree that the Council planted widely is the Leopard Tree (Caesalpinea ferrea). We have several of these around the home enclosure and the top of their crown is a mass of yellow flowers in the spring. However following on from storms in Brisbane in 2008 when falling Leopard Trees were found to be dangerous the Council will no longer plant them. And neither will we!
  • There are also numerous Silky Oaks (Grevillea robusta) on our property and in this area. The Silky Oak with its golden flowers originated in south-eastern Queensland and north -eastern NSW. This means they are indigenous to our region and so we have lots of self-sown seedlings. However it has naturalised  (established itself in other parts of Australia) to the extent that it is now regarded as an environmental weed in NSW and as a minor environmental weed or potential environmental weed in Victoria.We already have lots of Silky Oaks so another one would hardly stand out as a specimen tree.
vivid orange grevillea flowers on the Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta)

vivid orange grevillea flowers on the Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta)

  • Our property already has some fabulous Poincianas (Delonix regia) which thrive in this area although they are not indigenous. The Poinciana with its glorious red flowers  is widely cultivated as a garden and street tree and is particularly common in the warmer parts of Australia. The Brisbane Council also includes them as significant landscape trees. In a recent storm at Moggill (29th Nov ’15) one of our largest specimens lost most of its branches. Given that it is not native we will not plant another specimen.
    poinciana loses crown

    Poinciana loses crown

    Common Bearded Dragon calmly sits among fallen branches that we will shift onto garden beds as mulch

    Common Bearded Dragon calmly sits among fallen debris that we will shift onto garden beds to become mulch

  • We have planted several Illawarra Flame Trees (Brachychiton acerifolius).Their dramatic red flowers make a wonderful contrast to the flowering Silky Oaks or Jacarandas. Even though they are from the Illawarra region (and therefore are native but not indigenous) they seem to love the conditions on our property.


  • We have other Brachychitons – The Lacebark (Brachychiton discolor), The [Queensland] Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris) and The Little Kurrajong  or Dwarf Kurrajong (Brachychiton bidwillii).

The Lacebark is more muted than the Flame Tree in its display of flowers and the individual flowers are a gorgeous pink and brown.

Lacebark flowers

Lacebark trunk

the Lacebark gets its name from the pattern on its trunk


This Lacebark is such an exquisite legacy to have received. Ian potted up seeds from the pods of this tree and we have now planted seedlings on the drive, one in the front paddock, another on the northern slope.Its distribution is from central NSW to southern Queensland and so it is both a native and endemic to this region.


the Lacebark we inherited

the Lacebark we inherited

We already have one specimen Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris) which is  well-known for it bulbous shape. Its leaves also differ from other Brachychiton leaves. The Bottle Tree is native to Queensland and parts of northern NSW  but it is usually found in the dry parts of Queensland so it is not endemic to the region around Moggill.


leaves of Bottle Tree

leaves of Illawarra Flame

leaves of immature Illawarra Flame









We were reminded of our own 3 Brachychiton bidwilliis when late in September we visited the expansion of Mt Cootha Gardens – four more hectares and 31,000 new native plant species. In taking a photo of a stunning piece of sculpture there we also captured a hazy image of some Little Kurrajongs in the background with the darkish trunks and deep rose-coloured flowers.





one of the Little Kurrajongs Ian planted down by river

We decided to plant another Little Kurrajong as a specimen tree in the site we had used for burning off dead wood – as we no longer use it like this but instead we pile fallen leaves, bark and  branches onto our garden beds as mulch. We were able to order online a Little Kurrajong from Daley’s Fruit Tree Nursery. This Brachychiton is distributed from Queensland in rainforests from Boonah, close to the New South Wales’ border, to Bowen in northern Queensland, making it both a native and endemic to this region.


Little Kurrajong planted where we are trying to kill off Rhodes grass which invaded the bonfire site

But only a short time afterwards we received a list of plants available at the MCCG nursery (Moggill Creek Catchment Group) and to our delight we noticed that Brachychiton populneus (Kurrajong) was available. So we planted one at this bonfire site as it will make a beautiful contrast to the Little Kurrajong when in flower. I was amazed to learn that not only are they native to eastern Australia but that they are native to our catchment and yet I have never seen one in flower.


the new Kurrajong

I found this photo of a Kurrajong’s flowers


Brachychiton populneus

Perhaps the pale green outside of the bell-like flower camouflages it and explains why I have not noticed  the tree in bloom – but other photos show the inside can be quite a dark shade of red.

brachychiton populneus flower

So we are calling this new Brachychiton populneus our specimen tree for 2016!

This entry was posted in Diary: Rain and Planting and Observations of Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Choosing a new specimen tree

  1. Kristina says:

    Thank you for all the detailed information Janet – very interesting 🙂 The Brachychiton populneus will be a lovely addition in your garden and I will be looking for a Lacebark to add to our place this year.

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