Brachychiton acerifolius: is a member of the Sterculiaceae family and is known as the Illawarra Flame Tree. Illawarra is a district south of Sydney.
Brachychiton acerifolius is a small to medium, deciduous, spreading tree in cultivation. In the wild the Illawarra Flame Tree may reach a height of 30 metres. The leaves are large, variable in shape and usually lobed. The leaves are similar in shape to the exotic Acers or Maples hence the species name.
The magnificent, bell-shaped flowers are about 1.5 centimetres across, bright red with a waxy texture. They are carried in large, much-branched clusters on the ends of branches. Flowering usually occurs in late spring or summer. Flowering may vary from season to season. The best floral displays occur after hot and dry periods. Leaves are shed before flowering. Leafless trees show off the flowers to the best advantage. This species is one of the few deciduous Australian plants.
The fibrous bark was used by Aboriginal people to make string. One use of the string was in the construction of fishing nets.
Brachychiton acerifolius is widespread in subtropical rainforests from southern New South Wales to Queensland.
The Illawarra Flame Tree, coming from subtropical rainforests, is very frost sensitive and we will not attempt to grow the species outside. In cool areas the Illawarra Flame Tree has been grown as an indoor plant.
The photographed tree is growing beside an apartment building in western Sydney. The owners, of the building, may rue the day that plant was positioned so close to a wall. In the fullness of time the roots may cause expensive damage to the foundations.
Propagate from seed.