This tree was named for its little seed capsules, which grow on the female trees and once reminded some imaginative person of a wheel of cheese.
This may have seemed a reasonable analogy when you might have expected a cheese to be wrapped in cloth, tied up with string and dipped in red wax. Nowadays, we’re more likely to think they look like little pumpkins.
These on my neighbour’s tree are not ripe yet. As they mature, outer covering will (theoretically) peel off from the base, leaving a cluster of seeds which are covered by juicy red arils, on the tree. Red arils are always a sign that a tree is prepared to feed the birds, in the hope that they will spread the seeds about, so this is a good tree for a wildlife garden. I practice, I haven’t seen ripe seeds on my neighbour’s tree, so it may be suffering from the lack of a male partner to fertilise the flowers.
Dried immature fruits are added to pot pourri for an ornamental touch - but it seems a pity to pick them when they’re so pretty on the tree.
When it’s not fruiting, the tree can be recognised by its very shiny “two ranked” leaves. (This means that the leaves are arranged in two rows, and the branchlet would lie flat if you put it on a flat surface.)
This is only marginally a species of our district. It’s not found on the Darling Downs, but grows on the eastern escarpment near Toowoomba, and at Ravensbourne, in creeklines.
This well-shaped tree is about thirty years old. It was planted (in red soil) in what was a rather open space at the time, and survived many frosts before the other sheltering trees made frost less common around it. It had no supplementary watering from infancy, though there were good rains in its first few years of life. It has since thrived all through our long drought.
Cheese trees also grow happily under other trees - a useful garden characteristic - and would be an excellent tree to replace the privets which still choke many of our escarpment's sheltered valleys.
The species is a good orchid host.