When planning your backyard garden or shade space, it is always a good idea to first look at native trees. There are no finer selections than the Native Australian Finger Limes, Glauca Grass Trees, and Queensland Bottle trees. Australia has many unique species, but these three stand out for a variety of reasons. Designer Trees (aside from being species that we grow and make available) are trees that have interesting features that add focus or interest to your backyard or garden area, or even your foreyard.
These are only three of the many species that are native to Australia. Like many species that grow on the island continent, they each have distinguishing features that are like no other.
Glauca Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea Glauca)
Glauca grass trees are monocots. In practical terms, this is a plant that has a single primary leaf when it emerges from the seed. Other monocots around the world include cereal plants such as oats or wheat, and woody plants such as bamboo. All monocots have long, narrow leaves that have parallel fibers. Many of them can be broken down into strands that can be woven into fabric or wicker.
Glauca grass trees are perhaps the hardiest of all the grass trees species that grow in Australia. They can handle extremes in temperatures, surviving -5 C. temperatures, up through 45 C. That’s an impressive range of temperatures. These beautiful ancient grass trees provide an abundant food source for insects, birds, animals and even humans.
Even with their impressive resistance to temperature changes, glauca grass trees can be somewhat finicky to grow. They are dependent on a specific mycorrhiza to take up nutrients from the soil, and they are extremely sensitive to over-watering. It is a good idea to always purchases your Glauca Grass Trees from a licensed nursery, and to pay close attention to instructions you receive from the knowledgeable growers. We are always glad to answer questions about all our trees, and about glauca grass trees in particular.
Native Australian Finger Limes (Citrus australasica)
Although many citrus fruits can be grown in Australia, the finger lime is a native. Settlers from other regions chose to leave thickets of finger limes standing when they were clearing land for farms. The slender, finger sized fruits became a prized part of local diets. Later, botanists suggested that these tart fingerlings might be worth cultivating.
Were they ever! When cut in half, a finger lime is found to be packed with tiny, juice-filled pearls that give a burst of tangy, pucker goodness inside your mouth. The little fruits can be squeezed into salads, made up into sushi rolls, or just eaten on their own. They are an even greater delicacy because of their limited production season.
If you live in a tropical or subtropical area, finger limes are not difficult to grow. They like sunlight, but are adaptable to a certain amount of shade. Too much sunlight can give this understory plant a bit of a sunburn. For best results, they need some breathing space, so avoid planting too close together. They can be pruned for size, but do not require a great deal of pruning. Overall, once established they are a low-maintenance fruit tree with fruits that are well worth having in your garden or orchard area.
Queensland Bottle Trees (Brachychiton rupestris)
The Queensland Bottle Tree is not the same species as the boab, even though both are sometimes called bottle trees and can develop the characteristic bulging trunk. Therefore, if you are looking for native Australian trees for your backyard, double check the scientific name, which should be brachychiton rupestris. Your diligence with help prevent errors about the species of the tree that might make it more difficult to grow the tree you desire.
Queensland bottle trees are large. Quite aside from the distinctive wine bottle shape that makes them unique, they are beautiful shade trees. Often, farmers will leave them standing in fields. Not only do they provide welcome respite from the sun, they can be felled in time of drought and used as fodder. However, this should always be a short-term solution, since too much grazing on bottle trees can prove fatal to livestock.
Bottle trees were important to the aboriginal people of Australia. Nearly every part of it could be eaten or made into something. The soft pulp could be eaten, holes could be cut into the bark to form reservoirs, the fibers could be shaped into string or rope.
These three designer trees have a super wow factor. The finger lime has its delicious fruit, as well as its forbidding thorns. The glauca grass tree is not only an impressive source of shade and beauty, it also produces blooms that are highly attractive to bees and other pollinator. The Queensland bottle tree (not to be confused with the boab, even though it is sometimes called a bottle tree) has a distinctive, graceful shape similar to an expensive wine bottle. Everyone of them can make an impressive addition to your yard or garden.