The Firewheel Tree
My Firewheel Tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus) is finally flowering. It has taken about ten years to do so but it is well worth the wait. You will see odd trees throughout Northland but nowhere near as common as they should be.
The Firewheel Tree, one of seven Australian species, comes from northern New South Wales to the Atherton Tablelands in north Queensland. Most of the thirty Stenocarpus species are timber trees and come from New Caledonia and one from Papua New Guinea. They belong to the Protea family.
In the natural rainforest they grow to 30 metres but seldom get more than 8 metres in a garden situation.
Being a frost tender plant when it is young, it pays to be selective when planting young plants. Free draining but preferably moister soils are best but they can survive dry times. Full sun to light shade is best.
Leaves can be extremely variable especially when the plant is young and can be entire or lobed. They are a dark, glossy green and I find they often look like Macadamia leaves. They can get up to 45cm long.
Flowers which first appear as a wheel shape open further to appear quite spider-like. They are an orange red to a bright red in colour and produce a lot of nectar which birds and bees enjoy. The Aboriginal people used to make a special drink from this nectar. Flowering is in late summer into autumn and they keep flowering for quite a long time.
The timber is valued for cabinet work.
They can be propagated by seed or by cuttings, which are not easy. They grow easily as an indoor pot plant. If grown by cuttings they can flower in three or four years and as they are fairly slow growing they show their flowers off well.
This tree should be planted more often.