Friday, May 2, 2008

Gumbi Gumbi

Pittosporum angustifolium (Pittosporum phillyraeoides)
Gumbi Gumbi are in fruit all around the district at present, and very pretty they look, too. Their profuse, creamy-yellow, butterfly attracting flowers appear from winter to summer. The sticky red seeds shown in the photo appeal to birds. King parrots feeding on them do make a lovely sight! There is a story that the seeds are so bitter that they ruin the flavour of the meat of emus which eat them.
This is one of our best local native plants for garden use. It’s a fast-growing (but long-lived), elegant tree, with slender weeping branches. Young plants tend to have an open growth habit - but as you can see from the photo of this roadside specimen, the canopies thicken up with age to form a dense screen or shady tree.
A well-watered specimen achieves this height and density in two or three years, and keeps its foliage right down to the ground for many years.
Gumbi gumbi are rewarding subjects for clipping. You often see lollipop-shaped “topiary” trees in paddocks, where pruning has been done by cattle or sheep. They would also be good hedging plants. They are able to flourish despite strong competition from other plants, such as overhead eucalypts.
These frost and drought hardy plants cope well with exposed sites and poor soils. They thrive on rocky or gravelly sites, and heavy cracking blacksoil - but really flourish on redsoil and good garden soils.
They are very easy to grow from seed, and like to be put into the ground while they are still very young, so their fast-growing roots can go deep without the “check” that they suffer if kept too long in a pot.
Gumbi gumbi roots do seek water. Planted specimens should be kept well away from drainage lines.


MEP said...

Hello Patrica

I loved reading your blog ... I loved this one on Gumbi Gumbi .. I was wondering would it grow around the New England (specifically around Tenterfield), or is it too cold. If it does do ok - I would like to have this in my garden. The medicine plants of Australia are unique and helpful for all people who live in her climates. I loved the Cribb Bush Foods in Australia, Bush Medicine in Australia And Wild Food in Australia books.

Patricia Gardner said...

I apologise for both the slow publication of your comment and my slow response ( have been away from home with no access to my comments file, so am just catching up with the backlog now.)
I'm afraid I can't comment on whether it would grow in your district,as I am not familiar with the your climate patterns.
If you pull up this site:
you will see a map of where this very tolerant plant grows naturally all over Australia. Zooming in on New England and other cold areas might give you some clues as to whether it would survive at your place.
If you click on the dots, they open up the description written by the botanist who collected it, and sometimes this gives you further helpful information about whether the site was exposed, or tucked into a sheltered spot.
Meanwhile, you may be able to plant it in a good frost shelter somewhere in your garden. Most gardens have them.
This link to another page on my blog might give you some tips about mapping your garden's frost in winter, and making use of the places where frost doesn't lie. It's amazing what you can grow once a garden is established and providing some shelter from a harsh climate.