We were out cycling through another municipality when we came across a Queensland Bottle tree (Brachychiton rupestris). It was about 4-metres tall, with a girth of around 2.5-metres.
My luck the owners were there & were very happy to discuss the tree. Apparently the previous owner of the house had planted it around 80-years ago. I was told that they worked as a Horticulturist & had an extensive plant collection in greenhouses in the back garden.
When the house was being negotiated for sale, the owner explained the significance of the Bottle tree & asked them to protect it & leave it in place. He also wanted to sell to people who would use the greenhouses for plants & look after any plants that were left in the garden. The person who bought the house & remains the owner kept these agreements being a keen gardener himself. His son is also a keen gardener, so the tradition of growing & caring for plants on this property continues.
They said that around a decade ago, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney asked to be given this tree to plant in the Gardens, but permission was declined.
I had not seen a Queensland Bottle tree, except in photos, so it was great to get up close to one. This was not a tree I expected to see in Sydney.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens website says the following about these trees –
“The name of the bottle tree can be taken literally, as there is a significant amount of water stored between the inner bark and the trunk. Aboriginals historically carved holes into the soft bark to create reservoir-like structures. The seeds, roots, stems, and bark have all traditionally been a source of food for people and animals alike. Another use has been made of the fibrous inner bark to make twine or rope and even woven together to make fishing nets.” See – http://bit.ly/1OUu5vd