Characteristics of Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) in the Wild

Brachychiton acerifolius
The Illawarra flame tree or Flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) is a large tree of the Malvaceae family endemic to tropical and subtropical areas of the east coast of Australia. This tree is famous for its bright red bell-shaped flowers that often cover the entire tree when it is leafless.

Illawarra flame trees are found in coastal rainforests from southern New South Wales to northern Queensland. On the Cape York Peninsula and northeastern Queensland, the range of this tree grows at elevations from 0-1,000 m asl.

The Illawarra flame tree is very popular as an ornamental tree in its home country of Australia and around the world. This tree is also used for shade roads, parks, public gardens, and private gardens. Illawarra flame trees are easy to grow and can be propagated from seed, cuttings, or grafting.

 

Characteristics of Illawarra Flame Tree Leaf

Brachychiton acerifolius Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/coenobita

The leaves are 30 cm x 25 cm, glossy green, glabrous, simple, alternating, and vary widely in shape from ovate to 5-lobed. The leaves have long stalks.

 

Characteristics of Illawarra Flame Tree Flower

Brachychiton acerifolius Flower
Source: inaturalist.org/trammy26

The flowers are bright red or dark red, bell-shaped when viewed from the side and star-shaped when viewed from below, 2.5-3 cm long and 1.5-2 cm wide, and produced in large panicles. They have five petals, fused at the base and free at the tips.

 

Characteristics of Illawarra Flame Tree Fruit

Brachychiton acerifolius Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/dhoare

The fruit is a cracked pod that is dark brown, leathery, and about 10 cm long. They ripen around May to August in Australia, splitting on one side to reveal two rows of yellow seeds totaling 12-26, each measuring about 10 x 5 mm and surrounded by thin arils covered in stiff hairs which are very irritating to the touch.

 

Characteristics of Illawarra Flame Tree

Brachychiton acerifolius Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/organisergirl

The Illawarra flame tree is a large deciduous tree that can reach 35 meters in height in its natural habitat. The stems are smooth cylindrical and green or gray-green in color.

 

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