Floral Icons…

Unless you’ve been living on a different planet these last few weeks, you can’t have failed to notice the stunning, traffic-stopping, gob-smackingly beautiful Golden Penda trees flowering their heads off in our parks, gardens and streets all over the Tablelands and down on the coast.

The Golden Pendas have been loaded with so many flowers that you can’t see the plant for the flowers – the whole bush is a dazzling mass of bright golden-yellow fluffy balls, lighting up the dull rainy weather and putting smiles back on our faces. Lorikeets have been having a ball, screeching from bush to bush, feasting on the nectar. And beneath each tree is a beautiful soft yellow carpet of fallen stamen, decorating our lawns, footpaths and pavements. Just fantastic!

The Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) is such a wonderful plant that it is routinely planted in parks, gardens and streets all around Australia. Reliable, hardy, easy- to-grow, shapely, stunning in flower, perfect for just about any situation. What more could you ask of a plant?

The fantastic thing is, we can rightfully claim the Golden Penda as, literally, one of our own. It is a true-blue local north Queensland native plant, occurring naturally in the rainforests and along water courses in the Wet Tropics rainforests right at our doorsteps. A case of a local making good in the big time, and achieving well-deserved iconic status.

The Golden Penda is in good company, joining a number of other local species that are now iconic. For instance, the Ivory Curl tree (Buckinghamia celsissima) is so well known in cultivation that most people have forgotten its origins, and yet this reliable, hardy, easy-to-grow tree also comes from the Wet Tropics rainforests on our very doorstep. Take a drive into the rainforests of the Herberton Range or Danbulla, and there it is. Fantastic!

The Wheel of Fire (Stenocarpus sinuatus) and the Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) achieved iconic status in Australian horticulture years ago – another two phenomenal species originating from our local rainforests. Then there’s the Small Leafed Lilly-Pilly (Syzygium leuhmannii) grown in gardens around Australia (and around the world) for over a century. You guessed it – another local floral icon.

So, you can see that our local native forests are the source of some of the world’s most fantastic horticultural plants. No wonder our rainforests and bushlands are so precious, and something to be so proud of.

Next time you drive down the Kuranda Range, Rex Range or the Palmerston Highway, or gaze out across the Tablelands to Mt Bartle Frere and Bellenden Ker, reflect on the diversity of unique flora you see, and think of the true-blue local floral icons originating there.

Do you have a Golden Penda in your garden?

Happy gardening (and see you at Yuruga!),
Peter and Ann