Plant of the Month
Photos: Rachel Cobb
Common Name: Australian Flame Tree, Illawarra Flame Tree
Distribution: Southeastern Australia
Growth Habit: This medium-sized tree has an upright, spreading form.
Cultural Requirements: These trees tolerate heat, drought, wind, and light frost. Once young trees are established they are quite drought tolerant. Like other brachychitons, even large trees transplant well.
Uses/Features: This is considered one of the most outstanding flowering trees in the world. The fiery red, bell-shaped blooms are spectacular! The individual blooms are small, but grow in large flower clusters. The stems of the bloom clusters are also colored orange red; so long before the flower buds even open up, the tree is a wonder to see.
The leaves are variable in shape and size. The large, leathery foliage is especially exotic and even tropical in appearance so these trees can planted in tropical-looking landscapes even though they don’t require that much water. The leaves are deciduous and fall off in spring before the trees bloom.
Bloom Time: Australian flame trees often bloom in early summer when jacarandas flower, which together is a remarkable combination of flower power. The flame trees often bloom erratically, flowers may only appear at the top or on some branches. They may also bloom later in the summer. The trees generally bloom better further inland than along the coast.
Where at SDBG: Lawn House, Parking Lot, Hamilton Children’s Garden (young trees that are not in bloom)