The very lovely David Street Marrickville has many fans within the community because of these trees.

The very lovely David Street Marrickville has many fans within the community because of these trees.

Queensland Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus).   This is a medium-sized evergreen Australian native tree from northern New South Wales to North Queensland.  It makes a great street tree, as it is very hardy & generally free of pests & diseases.  It is moderate to fast growing developing a single trunk & a rounded or slightly triangular-shaped canopy.  It reaches a height of between 10-25 metres depending on growing conditions with a width of between 5-15 metres.  It produces bundles of small white flowers in summer.  It also creates a small woody bell shaped capsule that drops to the ground.  Any leaf litter is slow to decompose.  Chopped up, it makes great mulch for the garden.  Apparently they are even fire-retardant trees, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

It rarely needs formative pruning, but unfortunately, Brush Box trees across Marrickville LGA, have been pruned many times over the decades, usually for powerlines & have twisted knarled branches.  The strangest shaped Brush Box I have seen are living in Petersham Park.  I have no idea why these trees were pruned.  It must have been the done thing many decades ago.

There is a row of Brush Box growing along Hercules Street in Dulwich Hill that I think are perfect.  They are lush beautiful trees that add incredible beauty to the streetscape.  That they hide the rail line is an added benefit.

We have a number of streets across Marrickville & Dulwich Hill that are lined with Brush Box trees.  I consider these streets to be quite special because of the trees.  David Street Marrickville is magnificent.  Take a stroll along this street on a hot summers afternoon & you will know what I mean. The houses are beautiful too, but it is the trees that make David Street special.  Personally, I think all the Brush Box trees along this street should be classified as significant trees.  It is likely that they were planted around 80-90 years ago as were other streets in the municipality that are lined with Brush Box trees.

The Brush Box trees of Robert Street Marrickville looked fantastic 15-years ago, but for some reason their canopies were pruned into a shadow of their former selves.  It’s a shame.  Marrickville Avenue Marrickville is lined with Brush Box trees.  Most of Canonbury Grove Dulwich Hill is wonderful though some of the trees have been over-pruned losing their beauty.

It is the same with Excelsior Parade Marrickville.  The bottom end is magnificent, but the top end looks abused.   On hot days people buy an ice-cream at the corner shop in Excelsior Parade & sit on a lounge chair outside the shop enjoying their ice-cream in the cool shade of Brush Box trees. It is definitely a lovely place to hang out for a while.

There are other streets that have Brush Box trees planted along both sides, though I can’t think of them right now.  They all have a special something, a feeling & a beauty that is unmistakable, at least for me.  I adore these trees & when they form the streetscape, I think they are the best.  I have spoken to many people who have Brush Box trees outside their home & they all love their street trees.  Only one complained about the leaf litter, but was horrified at the thought of losing the trees.

The leaves of the Brush Box make a soft & beautiful sound when the wind blows.  Their sound is not as loud as poplar trees, but is audible & very soothing.  A different kind of sound (or perhaps noise to some depending on your mood & how much sleep you have had) comes from the many species of birds that frequent these trees.

This spring/summer has been particularly busy with birds because of a super Brush Box flowering season. I’ve never seen anything like it.   Whatever mix of nectar those flowers produce it is regarded as top tucker by wildlife.  Lorikeets, White Eyes, Red Wattle Birds, Honey Eaters & many other species all vie for the first daily offering at dawn, then return through the day for more.  If you are lucky flying foxes can be seen tenderly crawling over the outer canopy stopping at each flower cluster sipping their magic juice.

Bees like Brush Box flowers too, evident by Brush Box honey, which is very popular.  Any flower that encourages & supports bees is a necessity these days with the bee decline & we really should plant with them in mind.

There is only one problem with Brush Box in the Inner West & that is space.  These trees have been traditionally planted on the road, which is one of the reasons why streets with these trees look so good, & the real estate expensive.  A canopy forms & one sees more green than a wide hot expanse of bitumen & concrete.

Fortunately Marrickville Council stated in 2012 that they do intend to plant more street trees on the road like they did many decades ago.  Sure, some parking spots will be lost, but the overall benefit will be greater.  Council will choose the appropriate streets anyway.

I would like Council to consider planting more Brush Box as street trees & as feature trees on corners or where there is room & no overhead wires for a grand tree of this size.  I’d also like Council to plant Brush Box trees in parks, especially our pocket parks that desperately need shade.

Because they are fast growing & long-lived we can have lush leafy trees adding green to the streetscape pretty quickly & sticking around for many decades.  They would have to be a good economic choice considering Council told me that street trees are only expected to have a life of 7-15 years.

Overall the Brush Box tree is a fantastic choice for urban wildlife & I don’t think it matters at all that they are not indigenous to Marrickville LGA.  Their benefits outweigh the intruder argument, though I am sure there will be people who disagree with me.   I would hope they would be open to the many benefits these tress bring, both to the community & to urban wildlife.

One last point – they don’t drop large branches, only twigs.

I think the Brush Box trees that line the railway line in Hercules Street Dulwich Hill have perfect canopies.

I think the Brush Box trees that line the railway line in Hercules Street Dulwich Hill have perfect canopies.  This is a great example of planting the right tree in the right place & it shows.

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