Try growing: Whalebone Tree (Streblus brunonianus)

If you want a local Illawarra tree for your garden or verge, you're spoiled for choice! Wollongong is home to a surprising number of small, tough trees that will grow almost anywhere across the coastal plain and escarpment. One of the best is the Whalebone Tree (Streblus brunonianus). It's very hardy, and generally grows as a dense small tree 3m to 6m high, with small dark green leaves. Sometimes plants will take a more shrubby form, which is useful for hedging; lower branches can easily be pruned off to create more of a tree form. 
This Whalebone Tree is growing in lightly dappled sun on the lower slopes of Mount Keira. It has developed this shape with no pruning or other management by humans. Image by Emma Rooksby.
Whalebone Tree also has an interesting, sometimes quite decorative trunk. Image by Emma Rooksby.

Here's a small grove of Whalebone Trees growing together at the base of Mount Keira. Not the best photo sorry! (Image by Emma Rooksby.)
This tree is unfortunately still uncommon in cultivation, at least around the Illawarra. But it makes a stunning small tree, and can be pruned to shape. Here's a tree that self-seeded in Keiraville and has been pruned into a standard form. 
This tree is around ten years old, and is perfectly happy growing in the spot where
it germinated. Image by Elena Martinez.
The flowers and fruit are also interesting, though not spectacular. Established trees attract all sorts of birds and insects.
These fruit bring in all sorts of birds, and they don't stay long on the tree as a result of their popularity. Image by Byron Cawthorne-McGregor.
Do you know of a Whalebone Tree in someone's garden or on a verge? How is it doing? 

No comments

Post a comment