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|TROPICAL PLANT CATALOG||Printer friendly page|
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|Brachychiton bidwillii, Brachychiton paradoxus var. bidwillii|
Brachychiton - from Greek, brachys, short and chiton, a tunic, a reference to the coating on the seed. bidwillii - After John Carne Bidwill (1815-1853), a botanical collector of the 1840 - 1850 period. Brachychiton bidwillii is a highly variable species which may sometimes develop as a small tree on a single stem reaching 13-14 ft. with a spread of 13 ft. However, other forms may be little over two metres tall. The Southern Queensland forms usually have deeply-lobed leaves, while the 'Maroochydore' form has very hairy, 5-lobed leaves which are purple-brown when young. This form has pink flowers of a different shape from all others, with a long tube. The largest flowers in the species are found in some plants from the northern inland (Leichhardt form).Most forms of B.bidwillii drop their leaves before flowering. As the plants age, flower production increases, and after 8 years or so they may produce bunches of up to 50 flowers coming directly from the trunk, as well as the usual flowers on twigs and branches. Like other brachychitons, B.bidwillii tolerates a wide range of soil types provided they are well drained. All flower best in full sun, despite being 'dry rainforest' plants.All forms are frost-resistant to at least -6 degrees C and are drought-tolerant from a very early age (little over a month), as they form tuberous roots at the same time as their first true leaves. All forms respond well to pruning. Propagation from seed is relatively easy without any pretreatment. The seeds are surrounded in the capsule by irritant hairs and are best collected using gloves. The species usually takes about 3 years to flower from seed. Grafting is also relatively easy, and by using scions of mature material from good flowering forms, plants will flower much earlier than those grown from seed. Seedlings of B.acerifolius, B.populneus and B.discolor have been successfull used as grafting stocks. May be used as Bonsai.
Also placed in Malvaceae ssf. Sterculioideae.
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