The Queensland rain forest, in northeastern Australia, harbors nearly 1,200 documented plant species. Nearly 40 percent of all Australia's plant species grow in Queensland, and some grow nowhere else, notes Queensland's Environment and Resource Management Department. Among those plants are some spectacular flowering trees that have transitioned successfully to life far from their rain forest soils, bringing color and shade to home landscapes across Australia.
One of Australia's showiest native trees, tree waratah (Alloxylon flammem) stands between 80 and 100 feet high in the wild. Planted in home landscapes, it's considerably shorter, with a modest spread that makes it a good fit for small areas. This evergreen tree has dark green, glossy leaves and abundant, bristly clusters of bright red, late-spring-to-early-summer flowers.
Although wild trees grow only in the rain forest south of North Queensland's Cape York, cultivated ones are now popular as far away as Sydney, 2,100 miles to the south. Tree watarah will handle almost any soil that isn't consistently wet, notes the Australian Native Plants Society. Relatively drought-tolerant, it may not flower as heavily in prolonged dry periods. Heavy frost can damage it significantly.
Trumpet tree (Tabebuia) brings profuse clusters of vivid yellow or pink, trumpet-shaped flowers to residential and civic landscapes all along the Queensland coast, reports Geoffrey Burnie of Burke's Backyard Magazine. Seven of the more than 100 tabebuia tree varieties native to South and Central America now grow in Queensland. They thrive in the northern state's warm temperatures and tolerate the mild frosts that visit Brisbane in the southeast.
These deciduous trees drop their trees in Queensland's dry season--winter--and the drier, the better, as too much winter rain will mean fewer spring flowers. Before the new leaves emerge in September, the tabebuia's branches explode with blooms. They tolerate the wettest springs and summers (which are their growing seasons). In dry summers, they require deep-watering bi-weekly or more often.
Wheel of Fire
Wheel of Fire (Stenocarpus sinuatus) is a tree as dramatic as its name. Native to the Queensland rain forests, it stands up to 100 feet high with deep green, leathery lobed foliage and hard wood suitable for cabinetry. Its gray bark can have a cork-like texture. In February and March, says Queensland's Lamington National Park, the ends of its branches produce flat clusters of brilliant red-orange flowers extending from a single central point like wheel spokes. Brown seed pods with winged seeds follow the blooms. Plant frost-intolerant wheel of fire tree in rich, moist soil.
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