Botanical Buzz: Finding what rainforrest plants work best in Dubbo

As English vaudeville 1930s comedian George Formby said, “It’s turned out nice again, hasn’t it!”

Push the boundaries, get a pleasant surprise, despite the challenges.

Rainforest species give a truckload of new plants to try. Many are scooped up for Indoor Display; a big business I might add.

The big question is; what will work for us in the Elizabeth Park, Oasis Valley Rainforest?

This is a totally outdoor venue. Five years since establishment and the adventure is still buzzing.

Our ‘dry rainforest’ species are doing rather well, pushing the drought and frost barriers to the edge.

I won’t recount the species as a list is not the xylem and phloem, the crankshaft and wiring of the excitement we feel.

Instead we will surmise the possibilities; all made real by that first informed and brave decision to do it, just like they did in Canberra.

A friend told me the Black Booyong has a promotion push by certain nurseries. Common names extant are Blackjack, Crows Foot Elm, Tulip Oak, and the one advertised, Black Booyong. The botanical name is … are you ready for it?... Argyrodendron actinophylla. Some mouthful eh?

This mature size tree of 50 metres with buttress roots, coming from tropical north NSW and Queensland in tropical and subtropical habitats, has me onside already. Pure personal conceit, I might add.

From little things big things grow: Rainforrest plants open doors to many possibilities at Elizabeth Park. Photo: FILE

From little things big things grow: Rainforrest plants open doors to many possibilities at Elizabeth Park. Photo: FILE

You see, the last two letters of the generic appellation, ‘ron,’ are my very name. Having nothing named after myself, and in spite of the knowledge that botanists are totally unaware of my very existence, I’m willing to claim ‘Argy’ as my very own. A lovely tree. I haven’t seen it yet, but with a name like that it must be tremendous.

The bark is a mysterious grey to black. The leaves are palmately divided, with usually seven leaflets radiating from the stalk like a wheel.

Flowers are cream, lemon-scented and bell-shaped like our Kurrajong, which shares the same family, the Sterculiaceae.

The tree has potential as much as Silky Oak which thrives in Dubbo and comes from a similar background.

Another tree with the same tropical history is Hairy Bird’s Eye (Alectryon tomentosus). Capable of 15 metres height and growing for the last five years in our Oasis garden. We have two as one was donated from a local family who have a bunch growing on a property outside our town. It works, you see.

I do have high hopes for the Black Booyong. We have to get them yet. Plant after frost to avoid risk. Give them a good start.

A fighting chance, and as George said, (high probability), “It will come up nice again.”

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