Brachychiton discolor (STERCULIACEAE) Lacebark Tree

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Medium-sized tree in rainforest from central New South Wales to southern Queensland. Common in dry rainforest, especially on well-drained slopes and in association with Hoop pine Araucaria cunninghamii. Leaves are about 100 to 150 mm long and deeply lobed. The large, spectacular, felty, bell-shaped flowers are usually deep pink and occur in clusters at the ends of the branches. They light up the tree so it can be seen in the forest canopy from some distance away. The showy flowers are followed by boat-shaped pods from 7 to 20 cm long and containing up to 30 seeds. These ripen during the following autumn to winter. The slightly swollen trunks of mature trees may be up to 75 cm in diameter and have prominent vertical fissures. Aborigines used the wood of the Lacebark to make handshields, the bark to make dillybags and roasted the seeds for a nutty snack.

Leaves and foliage Photo: Robert Whyte

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Reasonably common in cultivation and is hardy in a range of climates, partly deciduous before flowering. The specific name uses the Latin dis meaning unlike and color meaning colour, which describes the distinct contrast between the dark green upper leaf surface and the pale leaf underside. B. discolor propagates easily from seed which can be stored for several years at room temperature (some has been stores for 15 years with 54 per cent germination). Lacebark is very hardy, likes full sun and can cope well with dry conditions. Growth is rapid in good conditions.