Architectural trees are a foundational part of any landscaping scheme. There could not possibly be a better choice for a large shade tree than the distinctive Queensland Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris). It has the graceful shape that is not unlike a traditional wine bottle. The upper branches spread from the top of this shape like a well-designed bouquet. A Queensland bottle tree can become a central focal feature for any shady lawn area. They make beautiful row trees to frame a road or lane, and can be placed in other areas.
Bottle trees are natives of Australia, and as such are adapted to long periods of drought. The graceful bulge of the trunk is a reservoir of liquid for the dry times. Canny Australian farmers often keep bottle trees as part of their fields. In times of poor forage, the huge trees can be felled as emergency forage for cattle. This is chancy business since the cattle can sometimes become ill if they consume too much of the inner bark of the bottle trees. But the large trees also provide shade for grazing animals as well as habitat for a variety of creatures who will nest in the tree and feed from the blossoms in season.
They are also lovely trees to use as the centerpiece or large structural element in landscaping plans.
Easy to Transplant
As with many large trees, bottle trees are sometimes found to be growing in places where they have become inconvenient. Fortunately, Queensland bottle trees do well when transplanted by professional growers. It is a sizeable undertaking to transplant a full-grown tree, one that involves industrial digging equipment and a large truck for transporting the tree that is being relocated. It is quite an impressive sight to see a mature tree trundling down the road on a flatbed. But in most cases, the end result is a full-grown tree established almost instantly in a desirable location.
Obtaining Your Own Bottle Tree
Queensland Bottle Trees, like many native plants, are a protected species. It is not legal to harvest them from the wild, but you can buy trees from licensed nurseries. Our bottle trees are sustainably grown and harvested on our own land, or obtained from similarly licensed growers, and we are always ready to answer questions about the care of our trees.
Bottle trees, while they can be transplanted as mentioned above, do best if planted where it continue to grow. The trees make an excellent feature tree in any garden or lawn area. These amazing trees make an excellent shade tree, and can also provide protection from wind. They like a well-drained location, in slightly acidic soil.
They enjoy a light mulch, such as bark or pea gravel. But the mulch should not be piled up against the trunk of the tree because that will promote rot. Feeding should include organic soil amendments in moderate amounts.
In spite of their ultimate size, bottle trees can be grown in containers and even make lovely bonsai. They are slow growing, and their elegant shape makes an excellent statement in any collection of plants on a patio or in a sunroom.
As with most such trees, the growing conditions in the container should resemble that of natural conditions. Good drainage is essential, and the soil mix should be slightly acidic. Bottle trees prefer a great deal of sunlight, but will not tolerate wet feet, as is frequently the case with vegetation that has adapted to arid conditions.
Queensland bottle trees can be grown from seed or from cuttings. Heavy gloves should be worn when preparing the seeds for planting. They have sharp spines that can cause painful irritation. Pliers are suggested for helping to open the tough pods.
They an also be grown from cuttings, which is handy if you are growing a bottle tree in a container or have limited growing space. While they do not require trimming, they respond well to it and the trimmings can be turned into new trees.
Dip the cut ends of the trimmings in growing medium, and set them in water. If temperatures at the time of trimming are on the chilly side, a heat mat or tape for the growing container is advised.
Although it is not legal to harvest Queensland bottle trees in the wild, they are listed as a “least concern” on Australian native vegetation list. With that said, they are key habitat for several unique species of native insects, birds, and animals. Therefore, when you plant a Queensland bottle tree in your backyard or on your acreage in Australia, you are helping to maintain Australia’s unique natural heritage.