Most of Australia’s plant life is unique and unrecognisable to first time foreigners and even long time locals exploring the bush here. Discover where the giants and small gems are in the great outdoors here!
It’s simply not Australia without the iconic Gum Tree! These are some of the toughest plants in the world and you will find them all over the country. Gum Trees survive in all climates from desert to snow-topped mountains and they divide into 3 kinds; Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia.
Mountain Ash is a Eucalypt found in wet forests of Victoria and Tasmania and is the tallest flowering plant in the world! It is a superb example of the Gum Tree, able to grow to 100 metres high!
Banksias are a group of plants is named after the naturalist and botanist, Sir Joseph Banks who arrived in Australia with Captain Cook. Banksia flowers are made up of many flowers all in a tightly packed cone and come in a variety of colours.
Much like the Gum Tree, they are widespread but there is greater diversity in the south-west of Australia. The Coastal Banksia is one lovely example and down at Bushman’s Bay in Victoria, there are many old and large specimens that will transport you back in time!
The Wattle is the floral emblem of Australia and the reason why at international events, Australians dress in green and gold colours! Its botanical name is Acacia – a plant you may have heard referred to in Africa! Australia has a great deal more species with nearly 1000.
Wattles begin to flower in late winter and well into spring. They are one of the first bursts of flower here with a very distinct scent. The leaves you see on them are not leaves at all but actually phyllodes – a modified stem that preserves water. Find them all across Australia!
Fig Trees in Australia do not only refer to the delicious fruit we all know but also giant trees, typically in tropical and sub-tropical climates. There are about 45 species here and they stand out even in the dense rainforest! Despite being a humid loving plant you will find them in most botanical gardens in the cities.
They have developed aerial roots that mature into what is known as ‘buttress roots’ and they are the ultimate playground, particularly the Morton Bay Fig Tree (find them at Adelaide Botanic Gardens, South Australia). Also worth checking out is the Strangler Fig Tree at Curtain Fig National Park in Queensland there is an example to render you speechless.
Grevilleas are the 3rd largest plant genus in Australia. Their protea flowers are a delight to honey-loving birds and very distinct. The Silky Oak is a tree specimen of Grevillea with bright yellow flowers while most Grevilleas are usually small shrubs.
Their blooms are architectural and range from small to giant globules like chandeliers. Cultivated varieties are full of flower and very striking and spectacular. Found throughout the country, be delighted by their persistent blooms!
Grass Trees are strange plants becoming popular in landscape design due to their geometric and modern sleek lines. Despite their modern use, these are in fact extremely ancient plants. Like a palm tree, each leaf layer sheds to form a trunk except they are much slower growing.
Heading into unpopulated regions of Australia is worth it to find Grass Trees with proper thick trunks and hundreds of years old. En mass they transform the land and take you back in time. To see some staggering views and Grass Trees, take the road to Lamington National Park in Queensland.
While Australia’s palm trees are not internationally acclaimed – they should be. An overlooked plant amongst other colourful natives, there is every reason to celebrate them. We have over 50 native palms here and while many are confined to the tropics, others thrive in desert oasis’ of central Australia.
The Queensland Fan Palm is one of the most beautiful examples found in tropical rainforests. Head to Licuala Day Use Area, near Tully in Queensland to see a Fan Palm forest and perhaps a Cassowary too! For a surprising experience head to Gregory National Park in the Northern Territory and take the walk from Joe Creek Picnic Area. Victoria River Fan Palms thrive in here for an arid paradise like no other.
So be it rainforest, mountain ranges, desert, eucalypt forests or beach side havens, there is a plant to give you shade and plenty of colour on your travels around the Australian bush!