The breathtakingly vast country of Australia is home to a diverse array of native plant life, many species of which cannot be found growing naturally anywhere else. Because of the country's mostly hot climate, Australia backyards need shade in order to make outdoor living comfortable. There are a number of Australian native trees that can be cultivated to add cool spots to the garden.
Also known as false monkey puzzle tree, bunya-bunya (Araucaria bidwillii) is a evergreen conifer that can reach staggering heights of up to 120 feet (though it will usually be much more modest in the home garden). A native of Southeast Queensland, bunya-bunya boasts spiny green leaves and attractive woody brown cones that may grow up to 9 inches long. The tree is popular as a container plant and as an imposing shade tree. Bunya-bunya grows best in USDA zones 9 to 11, in full sunlight or partial shade. The tree prefers a well-drained soil that is watered frequently. Caution should be used around especially large trees, as the heavy cones can cause damage when they fall.
Silver Dollar Gum
Silver dollar gum (Eucalyptus polyanthemos) is a species of eucalyptus that, like almost all eucalyptus trees, is native to Australia. The tree reaches an average height of 40 to 60 feet, with a spread that can be nearly as wide. The tree gets its common name from its dusty blueish-silver leaves, which are circular and look like silver dollar coins. Silver dollar gum provides shade as well as a strong, intoxicating aroma. The foliage and bark of the plant may be brought indoors and used as a natural air freshener. Silver dollar gum does best in full sunlight in USDA zones 7 to 11, with well-drained soil of just about any pH,. The plant is quite drought tolerant and does not require supplemental watering. Silver dollar gum is ideal for coastal regions, as it has a good saline tolerance.
A member of the bean family, yellow poinciana (Peltophorum pterocarpum) is a flowering tree native to coastal regions throughout northern Australia. The tree may reach heights up to 50 feet, producing a thick canopy about 25 feet wide. The tree is grown for its dense shade, as well as its fragrant, silky yellow flowers, which seem to light the tree ablaze. The fern-like leaves also provide ornamental value. Yellow poinciana grows best in partial sunlight in USDA zones 10 to 11, though it will tolerate full sunlight if properly irrigated. The tree should be grown in a well-drained soil that's kept evenly moist.