Time for a floral calendar-of-the-trees update. We’ve passed the time for all the cool weather flowers, the delicate pink and white blossom types. Now we’re into the trees that loooove the sunshine. The Cape Lilac has come and gone – that’s usually an October tree – and the bottlebrushes I posted about last time I did a calendar post have all well and truly finished. As the bottlebrushes finish the jacarandas begin. They’ve been flowering well for a few weeks now, and as usual are dominating November. I love the way the colour of the flowers highlights the heat of the blue sky.
In contrast, there’s the W.A. Christmas Tree. Nuytsia floribunda gets its name from when it flowers. Further south it’s flowering at Christmas time, but here in Perth it starts at the end of November so it’s usually almost completely finished by the end of December. While the tree itself is easily overlooked most of the year, at this time in the calendar it’s a very distinctive and brightly gaudy part of our bushland and paddocks. At least to human eyes.
Being a mistletoe, the Nuytsia gets a lot of its water and nutrition from parasitising other plants. It does this underground, attaching its roots to those of other perennial plants. I tried to plant one in my garden but it didn’t get past the 18 month mark which is common, as that’s the point by which the young plants have to have successfully attached to sufficient hosts. I think mine attached instead to the winter weeds and died when they did.
Lastly, the Red Flowering Gum. As the jacarandas reach their peak, the Red Flowering Gum starts to hint that it’s got something going on. The tree above is one of four in a line, and it’s the only one with much flower yet so it’s still only the beginning of this tree’s season. Red Flowering Gums are planted widely around Australia. They’re native to the south coast of WA so they don’t do as well in Perth as in other cities – we have all the pests that like to eat them – but they do well enough to be a common street and parkland tree here.
The flower colour is unpredictable, usually red but it can be orangey, or quite scarlet like these ones, or even just a pale pink. There is a grafted clonal version with predictable colour shade becoming available in nurseries now.