Update 19/11/16: more recent photos of Nuytsia floribunda
Last Christmas I blogged about the WA Christmas tree (Nuytsia floribunda), which grows its own beautiful orange decorations. People are searching and finding this post as Christmas approaches, so I thought I’d add a few more photos of my favourite Christmas tree.
I’ve come across more Nuytsia this December. Since I’ve been riding my bike to take Sheeba to doggie day care every day, I see the mass of orange flowers behind some houses at the cross walk leading to Karrinyup Shops. This Nuytsia is parasitizing a red flowering gum and the red next to the orange looks particularly striking. I went to Ellenbrook a couple of weeks ago and on Gnangara Road, at the edge of Whiteman Park, there are multitudes of Nuytsia and Xanthorrhoea. The Xanthorrhoea flowers didn’t look so good now spring is over, so it’s the turn of the Nuytsia. There are more Nuytsia here than I’ve ever seen in one place and the orange blooms on every second tree are amazing. Now I know what Perth used to look like, before we came along and bulldozed everything.
The Nuytsia near my house makes me smile every morning when my bus drives past. And this year I’m a lot more consistent in catching the bus so I also see masses of beautiful orange along Kent St opposite Curtin University. These Nuytsia grow among the pines which were left when a plantation was cleared to build Curtin. Their orange glow are a much more stunning sight than those boring pine trees, which I guess are also Christmas trees, they just don’t grow their own decorations. There are also Nuytsia within the grounds of Curtin, mainly in the carparks.
My friends at Nuts about Natives have their property backing onto the extension of Freeway South, the Perth Bunbury Highway. This area was previously grazed by kangaroos and cattle and its vegetation included paperbarks (Melaleuca) and Nuytsia. All these beautiful trees were cleared, but a stand of Nuytsia next to the western cycle path was saved. There’s one or two on the eastern side of the freeway, but they’re across the great dividing desert of sand – soon to be bitumen.
Ben and Anouska moved the firebreak along their eastern fence, burnt some of the woolly bushes which were coming to the end of their life, and planted the area with Nuytsia, Banksia ilicifolia and paperbarks. Some of the Nuytsia were grown from seed and some from cuttings. Plants grown from seed may not flower for fifteen years, but those grown from cuttings could flower next year. When I saw the newly planted Nuytsia all in rows, they had no plants to parasitize, but some Scholtzia involucrata popped up where a plant was removed for the firebreak and these have been transplanted in between the Nuytsia. I love the pink and white flowers of this Scholtzia and they flower most of the year, so the pink and white will alternate with orange in Decembers to come.
If you’re looking for a more traditional Christmas tree, woolly bushes have a similar shape to pine trees. Their branches can be pruned and arranged in a bucket to look just like the Christmas tree everyone recognizes. The Albany woolly bush (Adenanthos sericeus) is more commonly sold in nurseries, but there is a woolly bush that’s local to Perth Adenanthos cygnorum. It’s not propagated as much because it’s not as pretty as the Albany one. Woolly bushes make great hedges, which birds love.