The fruit of the Kigelia pinnata aka 'sausage tree'.
The fruit of the Kigelia pinnata aka 'sausage tree'. Contributed

Unusual tree good for birds

OVER the last few weeks I have received a number of inquiries about an unusual tree growing along Wandal Rd, just past the Southside United Sports Club.

The tree is Kigelia pinnata or the 'sausage tree' and could be described as one of nature's wonders.

This part of the street has an attractive street planting of these trees, which are fruiting at the moment.

The sausage tree would be one of the most underutilised canopy shade trees in Central Queensland.

A native of central and southern Africa, it grows into one of the more attractive canopy trees, with an expected height in ideal conditions of up to 17 metres, with a straight trunk and a large spreading crown of foliage.

After rain, you can expect one of the most unusual flowers of any of the world's trees.

The flowers appear like hanging clusters of orchid flowers, sometimes 60cm in length. Each individual flower is about 10cm across and dark maroon in colour and of a velvety texture.

Unfortunately, they do not have the sweetest of perfume, but they will still attract a lot of birds to the tree.

After flowering, large sausage-shaped woody fruit develop, hanging from long flower stems. These can give the tree an odd appearance at this time.

The unripe fruit is poisonous, but it has been said that in Africa it has been used as a treatment for rheumatism and as a dressing for tropical ulcers.

It has also been reported roasted and ground ripe fruit has been used to make a crude beer, although I would not recommend this to any potential homebrewers!

One other interesting fact about this tree is, due to its fibrous bark, it is a very good host plant for orchids and other epiphytes. In some countries, it has been grown solely for this purpose.

 

Groundcovers for shady spots

It is always around this time of year you suddenly notice those little gaps in the shrubbery of the garden that require attention.

The main reason for the gap in the first place is usually the position has become much darker, making it hard for the original plants to grow.

With a little careful selection, there are quite a number of plants that flourish in these less than ideal conditions.

If are preparing a garden that poses this type of problem, using shade-tolerant groundcovers could easily solve your problem.

Acalypha reptans 'Stephie' is an evergreen spreading plant with unusual bushy red tail-like flowers and mild green leaves with saw-toothed edges for part-shade to full sun areas. This is probably one of the most versatile groundcovers available to local gardeners.

Heterocentron elegans or Prostrate Lasiandra, is an evergreen hardy groundcover with mat forming stems; soft, lime green leaves and rich, purple flowers throughout the year.

Lysimachia 'Gold Clusters' is a vigorous evergreen, prostrate perennial for partly shaded areas, with clusters of yellow flowers all year. There are also several new hybrids with various coloured foliage.

Ruellia ciliosa or Splash of Blue is a very hardy groundcover with large blue flowers over a long period.

It accepts a variety of conditions, from sunny warm dry spots to moist part-shade positions, and is highly recommended.

Viola hederacea or Native Violet, is a plant that is found growing naturally at Blackdown Tablelands.

It is a vigorous growing groundcover, which spreads to 1m in diameter, with very attractive mauve and white, violet shaped flowers.

There is also a white flowering form available to local gardeners.

 

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