Illawarra Flame Tree

Illawarra Flame Tree

Common name Illawarra Flame Tree
Botanical name Brachychiton acerifolius
Family Malvaceae
Natural range Sydney to northern QLD
Mature height 10-15m
Form Conical/pyramidal
Likes Warm weather and dryish conditions
Dislikes Frost, cold weather
Where to plant At least 10m from your house. Consider their useful shade properties

Known for Being the subject of a Cold Chisel song. Also, the flowers are quite lovely

A popular feature tree for parks and gardens
Best known for its spectacular displays of red flowers and foliage, the Illawarra Flame Tree is widely used for street plantings or grown in parks and gardens as a specimen tree.
The flowering times (spring-summer) ensure a beautiful contrast of colours with Jacarandas (purple flowers) so they’re a great choice if you have the space to grow both these medium-sized trees together.

Illawarra Flame Tree belongs to an unusual group of trees that are described as ‘flowering deciduous’. This means the leaves often fall off just as flowers are appearing, ensuing those red flowers can really ‘pop’ on their own.

Pyramidical in shape

The trees form an erect pyramidal habit with maple-like lobed leaves that are an attractive dark glossy green. The bell-shaped red flowers appear in a cluster, eventually developing into a tough leathery dark-brown seed pod. These contain rows of corn-like seeds that are surrounded by hairs that will irritate the skin and nose and throat if inhaled. They also are toxic to many native animals and birds!

How to grow one for yourself
After deciding that an Illawarra Flame Tree is what your garden needs, you need to know how care for it. Firstly, try to ensure full sun. The soil should have adequate drainage and be fertile. For the Flame Tree to grow successfully, the quality of soil needs to be the type that remains dry even in winter.

Illawarra Flame Tree growth rate is rapid, and the tree will grow large –around 2ft each year. But the payoff is a glorious flaring beacon of flowers that every bird in the neighbourhood will want to come and visit. Probably some human neighbours too!

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