Common name: Queensland Bottle Tree
Origin of Scientific Name
Brachychiton – from the Greek brachys meaning short and chiton, a tunic, referring to the coating on the seed.
rupestris – growing among rocks
Brachychiton rupestris grows to approxiamately 18-20 m in height, although it is usually much smaller in cultivation in cooler areas. It has a uniquely shaped bulbous trunk, which gives rise to its common name 'bottle tree', though it may take many years for this characteristic shape to develop.
The canopy is dense spanning 5-12m in diameter and leaves are variable from narrow and elliptic to deeply divided. Trees will drop their leaves before flowering and the canopy may thin out during a drought.
The flowers, though not especially conspicuous, are bell shaped to about 1cm long, pale yellow and followed by woody fruits of a distinctive 'boat shape' approximately 3 cm in length and containing seeds embedded in hairs.
This species is endemic to a limited region of Australia namely Central Queensland through to northern New South Wales. It grows in a soil that consists of a medium to heavy clay, silt, sand and volcanic rocks.
Refer to the distribution map for this species via the Department of Environment and Conservation's FloraBase online herbarium.
October - December
Propagation is from seed. This species will grow best in well drained, slightly acidic soil, yet it is quite hardy and can tolerate a variety of climates and soil types. Mature trees transplant well and can withstand long intervals between digging and replanting without detriment.
On 14 April 2010 Kings Park transplanted a mature Queensland Bottle Tree from Attadale into the Eastern States bed at the entrance to the Place of Reflection (Roe Gardens). This unique tree was kindly donated to the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and was prepared over several months by the Arbor Centre for relocation.
It was transported on a semi truck under pilot escort and weighed between 6 - 7 tonne with a trunk diameter of 3.5 m. The approximate age of the tree is 70 years. Smaller specimens of the Bottle Tree can also be seen in the adjacent beds and they range in age from 5-30 years.
The bottle tree has also been a food and water source to the aboriginal people in times of need. There is a significant amount of water stored between the inner bark and the trunk where holes were carved to create reservoir-like structures. The seeds, roots, stems and bark have all traditionally been a source of food for people and animals alike and the fibrous inner bark to make twine or rope, and woven together to make fishing nets.