The fruits on the guioa tree (pronounce its name with a hard “G”, as “GEE-O-A”) at Peacehaven Botanic Park in Highfields are just beginning to ripen.
They have this odd little habit. As these orange aril-covered fruits reach the peak of perfection, they drop out of their capsules to dangle temptingly, on little threads. How could a fruit-loving bird resist?
Guoias are usually found in gullies in dry rainforests where hoop pines dominate, which means they very much at home on the range-side of Toowoomba. They are small trees (trunk diameter to about 20cm). Mature plants have corrugated trunks, often adorned with lichens. They begin flowering while young, and havea long flowering period in spring, with tiny, white, honey-scented white flowers which invite the attention of masses of bees and butterflies.
“Semiglauca” means “half-white”, and refers to the leaves which are green on the top and whitish underneath. This makes the shady canopy of the guioa very attractive when a breeze ruffles the leaves.
These little trees are fast-growing pioneer plants, particularly useful for re-establishing forests, or getting a garden off to a quick start. Their timber is rather brittle, and mature trees tend to break in storms if they are grown in exposed positions. This is not the problem it might be with a larger tree. However, the best site for it is a sheltered one where it only has to cope with polite breezes.
Guioas are good shade and shelter tree for ferns, which like to grow under them. Epiphytes, both ferns and orchids, grow naturally on the trunks of these “good all-rounder” trees.