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.

1 comment:

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.