A great Tui tree, wonderful colour, drought resistance, long flowering. What more could one want? The Australian plant’s name is Xanthostemon chrysanthus or Golden Penda or in Aboriginal the name is Junjum.
It is a coastal rainforest tree, native to Queensland, Australia occurring from Townsville to Cape York. This tree is one of 45 different species which are found in northern Australia and north to the Philippines.
The name is from Xanthos = yellow and stemon = thread or stamen and the Greek chrysos = gold; anthos = a flower.
A slower growing tree it has had a gradual build up in its flowering for the first few years before covering itself in flowers. Flowers look like huge, yellow-golden pohutukawa flowers in large clusters on the ends of the branches. The Tuis love the nectar source and visit every day. One reference states that the Golden Penda makes a good cut flower. In Australia they are regarded as being good butterfly attractant plants but I haven’t noticed it here yet.
Flowering can start in February and continues into the winter. In the spring the new growth flush is a colourful reddish-brown so the plant has another bonus.
I have found that frosts can burn the young growth back so be a little careful where you plant in frosty sites or cover with frost cloth or newspaper when temperatures are low. Certainly in cooler areas the growth of the plant is slower.
The Golden Penda is the Floral Emblem of Cairns where they are planted either as street trees or en masse as small bushy bedding plants. Plants can be pruned hard and can be kept to whatever size you wish. They will still flower well.
In the wild the tree can grow to twenty metres and they are cut for a durable hardwood timber.
Moist but well drained soils are best but the tree will grow in quite wet to very dry situations.
Propagation is by seed or by cuttings from current seasons hardened growth.