Thursday, October 15, 2009

Native Frangipani

Hymenosporum flavum
This is a very familiar small tree in local gardens, being one of the few natives that have “crossed over” into mainstream gardening.
It’s a small tree, no relation at all to the chunky-stemmed introduced "Frangipani" (Plumeria species) - but its flowers have a similar strong fragrance. As you will notice from the plant's family name, this tree is really a kind of Pittosporum.The family is worth exploring for other species, if you're looking for fragrant shrubs or small trees for a garden.
These flowers are unusual, with their flecks of red. I photographed them a few weeks ago while bushwalking north-east of Crows Nest.

The more usual flower is creamy-white when new, and ages to deep yellow, like those on this two-year-old specimen in Peacehaven Botanic park.
Well-watered specimens tend to grow fast, but need pruning to prevent legginess, while specimens that have "done it tough" bush up attractively without further attention. Grown in full sun they make a well-shaped ornamental tree. In the shade between buildings, they make a tall slender trunk with no branches, and the narrow crown peeping just above roof height.
They are claimed to be somewhat fire-retardant, so are a good choice for gardens where this might be a worry.

No comments: