Wildhome Designs love Australian flora, as you might have noticed, so for those that are interested, we’ve included here some brief descriptions of our favourites. More to come.
The evergreen Grevillea plant has over 360 species and is an Australian native with some varieties also found in New Guinea, Indonesia and Sulawesi. The Grevillea belongs to the Proteaceae family and is also known as Silky Oak, Spider Flower and Toothbrush Plant. It’s happy living in rainforests and open country and ranges in size from small shrubs to 35 metre trees.
The bright and colourful flowers have no petals but instead consist of a tube called a calyx that splits into four lobes with long styles. Native birds love them for their sweet nectar.
Grevillea leaves come in all shapes and sizes. They can be forked fronds or unsplit and elliptic, delicate and sparse or dense and thick, glossy, waxy or furry.
Banksias are easily distinguished by their flower spikes, consisting of a woody axis commonly referred to as a “cone” and heads. The “cone” is covered in tightly packed pairs of individual flowers, in some varieties numbering in the thousands. As the flowers die off the woody cone is revealed, sometimes showing opened seed follicles. About half the Banksia species have these flower spikes. The flowers’ nectar is an important food source for Australian native birds, bats, possums, bees and marsupials.
The leaves most often, but not always, have serrated edges and come in a wide range of sizes, colours and shapes.
Eucalypts, commonly known as Gum Trees because of the sticky liquid that comes from damaged bark, are a large and varied family of about 900 species of trees and shrubs. They’re found all over Australia, apart from alpine region, and internationally valued for their oil, colourful blossoms, timber and fire and drought resistance. They’re also used in the production of honey, paper and dyes.
The white, yellow, pink or red flowers consist of a large number of stamens (not petals) and attract many insects and nectar-feeding birds. Eucalyptus fruit is referred to as a gum nut.
The oil-producing leaves have a lanceolate shape and hang downwards to reduce sun exposure and water loss.
Melaleucas are actually related to the eucalyptus as part of a larger family, the Myrtaceae.
There are about 300 species within the genus, nearly all of which are native to Australia, mostly growing as shrubs and small trees of less than 10 metres in height.
These water-loving plants are found along riverbanks, estuaries and swamps. While Melaleucas are widespread, large and densely packed forests of Melaleuca are found in the tropics, where their roots are continually submerged in water, leaching tea-coloured tannins.
Melaleuca bark, AKA paper bark, has been used by Australian aboriginal people for thousands of years as a general-purpose material from roofing to food prep.
These days, distilled tea tree oil is made from commercial plantations and is popularly used as an effective antiseptic.